Monthly Archives: January 2014

Guest post: Looking after the PWDs you love with ShugaTrak

A long, long time ago, when we could comfortably go outside with short sleeves and no jacket (July 2013), I met John Fitzpatrick at one of our New York City JDRF chapter meets. John is the Co-Founder and CEO at Applivate LLC, and the brains behind a simple but powerful tool that, in my mind, can really help people with diabetes stay in touch with the people that love, care about, and support them (he’s a really nice guy, too). It’s called ShugaTrak, and what it does – quite simply – is forms a link between most blood glucose meters and a Bluetooth-enabled cell phone to automatically send a text with the blood sugar to whomever you choose.

Text messages sent via ShugaTrak

Text messages sent via ShugaTrak

John demonstrated the system by asking the crowd to “opt in” to his demo with their phones, then he pulled out a OneTouch UltraMini, pricked his finger (after changing the lancet!), and applied blood to the strip. Within seconds, everyone’s phones started beeping with a text message telling us what his blood sugar was. (Seeing as how he doesn’t have diabetes, I found the number quite enviable, but that’s not important). John explained how valuable this system was when his T1D wife was pregnant with their child and he craved the reassurance that she was OK (or the heads-up if she was not). 

Having read plenty of blogs by parents of children with diabetes, along with the text-message interactions embedded within them, I immediately thought of how valuable this would be to them. This would send the text AUTOMATICALLY when the BG was tested (and, at the same time, the absence of a text would indicate no test). It could also eliminate awkwardness of the child texting on a cell-phone in front of a substitute teacher in a No-Cellphones-Allowed classroom. And since it goes through ShugaTrak’s servers to get to you, you could easily access a log of all  of the previous blood sugars via their website.

Thinking this system could be a tremendous benefit to PWDs and their families, I reached out to John and asked if he would like to write a guest-blog to introduce the system to those who may not be aware of it. So please, allow me to introduce John Fitzpatrick and the ShugaTrak system…

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A big thanks to Scott for this opportunity. I’ll start by describing what ShugaTrak does, and then I’ll tell you about the mindset that we at Applivate have taken as we use mobile and cloud technologies to develop tools for people with diabetes.

ShugaTrak is a new mobile app for people with diabetes. When someone with diabetes checks blood glucose, ShugaTrak gets the reading from the meter, stores it in an online database, and sends it in text messages and emails to people who care. We developed ShugaTrak with the parents of children with diabetes in mind so that, when their child is at school or at a friend’s, they’ll automatically know that BG is being checked and will be able to quickly reach out to a responsible adult if action is needed. It can also be helpful to adult children concerned about an older parent with diabetes. ShugaTrak is useful to me because my wife is T1D, and it lets me know what her readings are when we’re apart and she’s the one looking after Ryan (2 ½ years) and Alison (4 months).

Bluetooth adapter, which can cohabitate nicely in the zipper-pocket with used test strips

In John’s demonstration, the Bluetooth adapter hid discretely in the zipper-pouch where most of us store used test strips.

ShugaTrak uses a Bluetooth adaptor that plugs into the blood glucose meter. When a reading is taken, the adaptor automatically retrieves the reading from the meter and sends it to the ShugaTrak app on the person’s phone, which relays it to the ShugaTrak servers, which store it and send the text messages. Once set up, ShugaTrak requires nothing more than an ordinary BG check.

That last point—that using ShugaTrak requires no additional effort to the person checking BG—is something that we felt was essential while we were developing ShugaTrak. It had to be extremely easy to use—virtually effortless—and not add any steps to a person’s diabetes management routine.

The current version of ShugaTrak supports Android phones and 8 glucose meters (details here). We’re working to support more phones (yes, that includes iPhone) and more glucose meters.

Now for the big picture. We at Applivate (that’s the name of our company, and ShugaTrak is our product) are focused on you, the person with diabetes. Not on health care providers. Not on health insurance companies. On you.

We’re not from the medical device world or the healthcare world or the health insurance world. We’re from the technology world, and we know mobile and cloud technologies can make diabetes management easier just as they have made so many other aspects of your life easier. We’ll use these technologies to build common sense tools that take some of the struggle out of the daily grind of diabetes management . ShugaTrak’s BG reading notifications are the first of these. The possibilities are endless, and we’re bursting with ideas.

And we support open data. That’s a no brainer for us.

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ShugaTrak is available at for either a monthly or annual subscription fee (a limited free trial also exists), and comes with a full money-back guarantee (visit the website for more details). 

Disclosure: I invited John to write this post with no-strings-attached, neither stated nor implied. There were no requests, expectations, offers, incentives, Super Bowl tickets, or other issuance of compensation in connection with this post. I have no financial ties with Applivate, LLC whatsoever. It’s just my way of trying to help the community.


You say… I wish I could shed a few pounds.
I say… I wish I could put on a few pounds.

You say… Yay! My A1c is X.Y!
I say… Ugh. My A1c is X.Y.

You say… Oh crap, my A1c is X.Y.
I say… Woo hoo! My A1c is X.Y!

You say… I wish I didn’t need to take so much insulin.
I say… I wish I wasn’t so hypersensitive to tiny air-bubbles in my insulin.

You say…I wish my CGM would stop waking me up at night.
I say…I wish my CGM was able to wake me up at night.

You say…die-a-BEET-us.
I say…dia-a-BEE-dees.

You say…low-carb.
I say…all-the-carbs.

You say…juice box.
I say…glucose tabs.

You say… purple! blue! pink!
I say… any color as long as it’s black.

You say…Cleo.
I say…Mio.

You say…BS.
I say…BG.

You say…blood glucose.
I say…blood sugar.

You say…the SofSensor in the arm is scarier than in the stomach.
I say…NOTHING is more terrifying than a SofSensor in the stomach (arm sites are easy).

You say…I am not alone.
I say… you are not alone.

You say…we’re in this together.
I say…we’re in this together.

You say…I Can Do This.
I say…. damn right!

Video: Testing with a two-year-old

My two-year-old son just loves my blood glucose meter.  When he sees it lying around (which is, by the way, always), he picks it up and hands it to me — with the request “Me want to see the numbers!”

So when I grab my meter to test , his eyes light up and he insists on being part of the action. I apply the blood, and he tells me the number. (Then I verify it to make sure he’s correct. He is – after all – two, and is prone to making mistakes).

It goes a little something like this: (doing it with a camera in my hand makes it a bit trickier)…

There are people

The more time I spend with this community, the more I come to realize something: we are not the same. We are not just one collective voice preaching a scripted message to our local communities and to each other. In other words, we are not interchangeable parts in the world of support or (dare I say it) advocacy.

All of us play a role that no one else can play. With individual stories to tell, individual strengths, and individual influences upon others.

Just from my own perspective (in no particular order, and by no means complete)…

Read the rest of this entry

WWednesday: Defying gravity at #MedtronicDAF

This was one of my favorite parts of the Forum.

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Disclosure: Medtronic provided the transportation, hospitality, and the Tweet. I provided the thoughts (uncompensated). But you already knew that.