Unfortunately, I was diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes. My disease is controlled only with medication at this point, and I am heading in the right direction. However, I decided I needed to take the next step in monitoring my blood glucose levels even though my doctor hasn’t said I need to yet. That’s where Livongo came in, thanks to my employer. Will it help me keep track of what I need to keep my diabetes in control? Let’s find out.
It started one day when I got an e-mail reminding me that I have this as a benefit from my employer. I read through the e-mail, and at no cost to me, Livongo sent me a starter kit, which consists of their internet-connected meter and supplies to get me started. Further, as I test and begin to use up my supplies, I can just visit their website and order more at no cost. Your insurance plan can cover meters like this, but there is usually a cost associated with that in the form of a copay. Livongo has a deal with my employer and the others who participate in their program, so thankfully, I don’t have to worry about future costs for supplies. I just test my levels and use the program. It makes living with this disease much less worrisome. So how does it work? Let’s go through a test.
First, the meter is automatically linked to your Livongo account, which is accessed through their website or via an app on my smartphone. The meter itself has a built-in LTE connection, provided through T-Mobile. So every time I test, my results automatically sync to the app. To test, you put in the strip and power on the meter. When the meter tells you it’s ready, you use the included finger poker and poke your finger as you do with any other meter to get a drop of blood on the end of your finger, which you then touch to the strip. After a few seconds, the results show on the full-color screen, and then the meter will ask you what you just did and how you feel. At that point, it submits the test to the website, and then it will tell you if you are in range for the activity you just did. For example, if you just ate dinner, it’s normal to see your Glucose level has elevated. In the morning, it should be around 100 milligrams per decilitre, depending on what is normal for you. Mine has generally been that, which tells me my medication (metformin) is currently correct, and my diabetes is in control.
The meter being free and the supplies being included is an excellent benefit in itself, but the Livongo system goes further than that because there are a coach and some gamification added to the system to help get and keep you on the right track. For example, my first challenge (which I am doing terribly at currently…must get back on track) is to fill my plate half full with veggies, which usually won’t raise your blood glucose like, say, pasta or bread. The challenge is to do this five days in a row for at least one meal. I haven’t really taken advantage of this, but I should! The current challenge it’s showing is to get 7-9 hours of sleep. I may try it, but I know that one will be hard as I usually don’t get more than six.
There’s also some coaching and some food logging with this that helps you keep track of how eating certain things affect your glucose levels. The only thing I do not like about the meal logging is it’s basically a free form text field plus a picture, and it’s not as useful as it could be, but it’s something. It would be better if it tied to a food diary app like My Fitness Pal.
Other things that are nice about the Livongo system is how also tracks your steps by integrating with things like Fitbit, Google Fit (which I use), or Samsung Health. It’s nice that it all ties into the app, which makes it really convenient to keep track of how exercise can also impact my glucose levels. Exercise certainly helps, as does reducing the carbohydrates in your diet and eating as little to no sugar as possible, of course.
Livongo is a great program even though some parts of it are not as useful, which is something I regularly find with lots of these types of employer-funded programs. If using Livongo was just a way to get a meter and testing supplies for free, it would be impressive enough, but the system provides much more — some of it useful and some of it not. So I’m pretty pro-Livongo right now. If your employer offers this type of setup and you have diabetes, then you should take advantage of the program because even with copays diabetes testing supplies can be expensive, and you really can’t beat free.
Source: Personal Purchase via Employer Benefit
What I like: Connected meter and free supplies!
What Needs Improvement: The meal logging leaves a little bit to be desired; If it helped it keep track of calories or tied in with other meal logging apps like MyFitnessPal, it would be much better