New Device Brings Price Drop in Diabetes Test Strips

The iHealth mobile blood glucose monitor. (Courtesy: iHealth Lab)

The iHealth mobile blood glucose monitor. (Courtesy: iHealth Lab)

iHealth Labs, a Mountain View company focused on mobile personal health technology has received FDA approval for what the company says is the world’s smallest mobile blood glucose monitor, called iHealth Align.

But for people with diabetes, the bigger news is likely to be the cost of the test strips that the device will use. People with diabetes often check their blood sugar one or more times a day. The test strips that users fit into a monitor list at a dollar each, for some of the larger brands. The strips for the new device will run 25 cents each. The device itself is $16.95.

“It’s probably more of a known secret in the marketplace that the real margins is within the strips,” Adam Lin, president of iHealth Labs, told MobiHealthNews. “We (wanted) to pass on all that savings to the end users. It’s got to be simple to understand. You don’t have to go through all these issues for reimbursement. We brought it down to pretty much co-pay.”

The new glucose monitor is just bigger than a quarter, and it plugs into a phone’s headphone jack. It can be used with either Apple or Android phones. It displays and stores readings using iHealth’s app.

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Lin thinks the lower cost will bring iHealth more market share, and it will be hard for the bigger players with larger overheads to follow suit. When users take their blood glucose with either of iHealth’s devices, they first scan the QR code on the box of test strips, which allows the app to track how many strips are left. iHealth is developing a feature by which users will be able to auto-reorder their strips based on that data, but right now the app simply reminds the user if strips are running low or about to expire.

iHealth’s Wireless Smart Gluco-Monitoring System was featured briefly at Apple’s WWDC event as an example of a smartphone-connected glucometer. Lin said that iHealth has plans to integrate all of its devices with HealthKit.

The product will be available next month, first from iHealth’s website and later from Walgreens.

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