For the last few weeks, I have been trialling the new Dexcom G5 Mobile CGM. (And you bet there are disclosures about that. See the end of this post!)
I am very lucky. I get to travel quite a bit for my job and that means seeing what others are using to manage their diabetes. The G5 had been launched in other markets last year, so I knew all about the G5 after seeing it in action at the World Diabetes Congress in February last year.
I had also read a few reviews of it online and, as a result of the generally positive feedback, was ready to try it myself.
I have been using Dexcom CGM since it was launched in Australia three years ago. I haven’t used it for the whole of those three years, but it’s the only CGM I have used in that period.
In the last three months, I have been wearing CGM full time. I have come to rely on it but refuse to see that as a negative. This is simply a tool I use to manage my diabetes. End of story.
The G5 has a few new features which sets it apart from the earlier generation Dex. Possibly the most interesting is that the G5 is the first CGM which doesn’t require confirmatory BGL meter checks before responding to glucose levels. Basically, what that means is that apart from the twelve-hourly (required) calibrations, your meter can stay tucked away for the rest of the day.
(You can decide yourself if that is as exciting as the shiny brochures state. And you can read my thoughts on it in a previous post here.)
The other fancy-pants thing is the nifty (free) app that displays the CGM’s readings (via Bluetooth from the transmitter). So now, instead of needing to pull my pump from my bra to see what is going on with my glucose, I look at my iPhone. This took me a little while to get used to, but not needing to reach down my shirt, grope around and bring out my pump is actually quite nice.
The app also shows lovely (sometimes) graphs and alarms (which you can customise) for low and high BGLs and also fall rate. It looks like this:
Also, the app has the ‘Share’ function, which means that I can share my CGM data with anyone I want! (Well, up to five people.) At this stage, I am not using this functionality; however definitely will when I am travelling solo. It has a lot of appeal for parents of kids with diabetes, many of whom love the fact that they can see what their kids’ glucose levels are doing during school hours of when they are not together.
Because the ‘receiver’ is now my iPhone (rather than my Vibe pump), the G5 must be sold with a separate receiver. This definitely affects the price of the start up kit (which you can read all about here). I have never used a Dex receiver before – I started using a Dex at the same time as starting on the Vibe, so used the integrated system from day one. And technically, I don’t really need to use it now. But I have been throwing it in my bag in the morning in case my iPhone dies, gets lost, or is eaten by aliens. (Yay for contingency plans!)
The G5 uses the same sensors as the G4, so there was no real learning curve there for me, with sensor insertions being second nature these days.
All of this is great. The app looks wonderful, the data is easy to read, it’s convenient.
But none of this really matters unless the results are accurate – especially now that we can dose directly from those numbers.
So is it accurate? I have always found the G4 to be incredibly precise. I was actually blown away when I started using the device at just how accurate it was. And the G5 delivers the same accuracy and then some.
Habits are hard to break and even if I had been known to dose directly from G4 results, I still would frequently check my BGL throughout the day – other than for just the required calibrations. For the first week of using the G5, I continued to do that, just because I wanted to check the accuracy. (I was, however, only entering the two calibrations into the system.)
The biggest difference between the Dex and my meter was 0.3mmol/l. Yeah – it’s accurate.
So – are there any negatives? Making sure my phone was in ‘Bluetooth range’ at all times took some getting used to – and this is from someone who is ALWAYS on her phone for some reason or another! I was actually surprised at the number of times that I would hear the ‘signal loss’ alarm because I was out of range. I have become a lot better at making sure my phone is in my pocket or by my side all the time.
I did find that there were some other ‘signal loss’-es early on, which I found very frustrating, but, again, that was most frequently to do with positioning of my iPhone. Or not drinking enough water one day!
The cost of the G5 system is going to be more than the G4 and that will definitely factor into decision making about which device to use. The G5 transmitter has a three month battery-life, meaning that four transmitters will be required throughout the year. Deciding whether or not the extra cost of the G5 is worth it will be made in coming months when I need to purchase the next transmitter.
But overall, I have to say that I really do love this tech. I do love the convenience of the app and I do love the idea of the share capability. But mostly, I love the accuracy and the peace of mind that gives me.
The Dexcom G5 Mobile is distributed in Australia by Australian Medical and Scientific Limited (AMSL). I was contacted in February by AMSL and offered product to trial the Dexcom G5. I was kindly provided (free of charge) with a G5 transmitter, a G5 receiver and four sensors. I have not been paid any money to use this product.
There was no expectation that I would write about my experience of using the G5. I’m just sharing ‘cause I’m the sharing type.
More information about the Dexcom G5 Mobile in Australia can be found here.