Zyxel, Entra Health Enable Bluetooth Blood Glucose Testing

Networking hardware maker Zyxel will integrate its Smart Home Gateway with Entra Health Systems' wireless glucometer to send blood sugar data to caregivers in real time.

Zyxel Communications, a leading maker of networking and security hardware for the home and small business markets, has announced an agreement to integrate its Smart Home Gateway with Entra Health Systems' MyGlucoHealth Bluetooth-enabled blood glucose meter.

The companies announced the partnership from the Consumer Electronics Show on
Jan. 5 in Las Vegas.

For Entra Health, its goal in providing real-time connectivity to patients' blood glucose readings was to provide more accountability so caregivers and diabetes educators-whether they're doctors, family members or nutritionists-know when family members are taking their numbers, according to Richard Strobridge, CEO of Entra Health.

With diabetics on average only seeing their endocrinologists or internists every three months, failing to regularly check their blood sugar levels can be dangerous, Strobridge suggested.

"One of the issues we start with is that diabetics would test their blood or not test their blood. They would not share those results with either their clinical care team or their family care team for months at a time," Strobridge told eWEEK. "That leads to a lot of different issues in terms of testing and compliance and really trying to avoid the highs and lows that occur when you don't track your blood glucose well along with diet and exercise."

The Zyxel SHG-connected MyGlucoHealth meter improves the accuracy and frequency of patients' blood glucose testing while reducing the need for doctor visits, according to the two companies.

"We see it as a one-button solution that simplifies and automates the upload process for the elderly or infirmed," Strobridge said.

The MyGlucoHealth device is the first FDA-cleared and CE-certified Bluetooth-enabled glucometer, according to Entra Health.

The one-button functionality of the glucometer provides more ease of use for elderly users than a mobile app would, according to Strobridge.

"We started down the road of building a glucometer into a mobile phone but realized that for a variety of reasons-reimbursement reasons being one of them, and cost-that was probably not the right way to go," Strobridge said.

Still, the MyGlucoHealth is compatible with apps on mobile platforms such as Android and BlackBerry, he noted.

"We wanted something that would be very easy for the elderly to use and get their blood glucose results out," Strobridge added.

After drawing blood, the user presses an arrow button on the MyGlucometer device to send data through Bluetooth to the Zyxel SHG. The readings then travel over Ethernet or 3G to the MyGlucoHealth Web portal. The site's analytics engine then processes the data and sends a text message to the caregiver with notification that the patient's numbers are available for evaluation.

The data can flow into a patient's PHR (personal health record) in the Entra Health Web portal or the EHRs (electronic health records) that doctors maintain. The MyGlucoHealth portal supports the HL7 (Health Level 7 International) standard for compatibility of EHR data.

A patient's PHR portal can also store exercise and nutrition information as well as blood pressure and cholesterol test results.

If the fixed cable or DSL connection fails, the SHG can switch to a 3G connection, Dana Patrick, director of North American channels for Zyxel, told eWEEK. In the first quarter of 2011, the SHG will support 4G, he said.

Each SHG can connect up to five MyGlucoHealth wireless meters and serve users in clinics, nursing homes, health clubs and public health centers.

The MyGlucoHealth device can store 50 days of readings, or 255 tests, Strobridge said.

Zyxel creates SHG modules for health care clients that connect to medical sensors through Bluetooth, Ethernet USB, WiFi or ZigBee, Patrick said.

"The whole system is designed to encourage more frequent testing, and most of the studies are showing that patients that test more regularly can stay in more control of their diabetes," Bruce Ahern, chief marketing officer for Entra Health, told eWEEK.

In another health-monitoring announcement at CES, Qualcomm said on Jan. 4 that it will integrate its wireless IEM (Internet of Everything Module) with health care technology provider Telcare's 3G-enabled 3GM blood glucose meter to help diabetics better manage their condition.