Tech Update: Dexcom

Stay up to date on the latest tech in the diabetes world!

The Connected in Motion team set out to learn all we could about what is available from Dexcom. Read on to learn more.

I’M JUST GETTING TO KNOW DEXCOM. CAN YOU TELL ME A BIT MORE ABOUT THE COMPANY?

 

Dexcom was founded in 1999 and has focused solely on Continuous Glucose Monitoring (CGM) technology. Seeing as it’s the only technology the company focuses on, they have been able to make some serious gains in development and innovation over the past years. Based out of San Diego, California, they developed their first CGM for regular patient use, the Dexcom STS Continuous Glucose Monitoring System, in 2006. Since then, the Dexcom Seven Plus, G4 Platinum, and G5 (with share and follow technology) have been made available. The Dexcom team has been involved in many of the artificial pancreas and closed loop systems that have been tested out over the years. Some pretty neat partnerships have also been forged between Dexcom and Fitbit, and Dexcom and Verily.

In Canada, Dexcom was originally distributed by Animas in late 2013 until Dexcom Canada, Inc. was formed and commenced direct operations with the launch of the Dexcom G5® Mobile CGM System in January 2017.

GIVE ME THE BASICS. WHAT DO I NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE LATEST DEXCOM PRODUCTS?

Dexcom’s current CGM is the G5. It’s available in both Canada and the US with very little difference between the products available. The very basics – There are 3 parts to the system:

  • The sensor (this is the part that sits under your skin, gets changed every 7 days, and costs $85 per sensor);
  • The transmitter (this is the grey part that you DO NOT throw away – trust us, we’ve heard horror stories! It lasts for 120 days and communicates via bluetooth)
  • The receiver (this might be a phone – apple or android – or a traditional Dexcom receiver.)

For more on the basics of the G5 system, read our original blog on the topic, here.

WHAT HAVE YOU HEARD IS ON THE HORIZON FROM DEXCOM? WHAT MIGHT WE HAVE TO LOOK FORWARD TO?

 

Disclaimer time. Some of the diabetes tech that is available in the US is not available in Canada (yet), and vice versa. Read on to learn about what’s out there, in general, so you have a heads up about what might be available to you soon!

On March 27, 2018, Dexcom announced FDA approval of their G6 system. Although that doesn’t necessarily foreshadow any distribution plans in Canada, it is exciting to note what the company is working on! You can browse the highlights of the G6 below, or check out Beyond Type 1’s blog post to learn more.

It’s also worth keeping an eye on Dexcom’s partnership with Verily in creating miniature versions of CGM devices. Although the project is primarily being driven by the value and needs of the Type 2 community (by reducing barriers such as cost, and size), the outcomes will most definitely impact the Type 1 community. And when we say reducing size, we really mean it. Check out the images of the device, here.

Finally, you may have heard that Dexcom has forged a partnership with Fitbit. The teams are working on allowing the new Fitbit Ionic watch to serve as a display for CGM readings. Although it will initially mean that a receiver (either compatible iphone/android or stand-alone receiver) will still be needed, it seems that work is being done to eliminate that need for watch-wearers, all together. Read more, here.

THE DETAILS – DEXCOM G5

 

  • Communication: The G5 communicates via bluetooth to IOS devices (see compatible ones, here) as well as to a stand-alone G5 receiver.
  • Size: The G5 is slightly larger than the G4, a change that was needed to allow for bluetooth functionality
  • Transmitter Life: 120 days
  • Sensor Life: 7 days
  • Calibrations needed: 2 per day (once every 12 hours)
  • Other: The sensor is approved for diabetes management decisions, meaning that a finger stick is not needed to confirm a BG reading.
  • Learn More: Check out Dexcom’s official product information, here.

THE DETAILS – DEXCOM SHARE/FOLLOW APP

Dexcom Share allows anyone who is wearing a Dexcom G5 system to share their BG readings and trends (all customizable!) with friends or family members. As the ‘Sharer’, you decide who sees what. Want your mom to get an alert only when you’re urgently low? Great! Want your BFF from diabetes camp to see your trend graph all the time but never get an alert? Awesome. Want your partner to just see your current BG? No problem.

With Dexcom Share, you’re able to share your BGs with up to 5 followers. If you are a follower, you’ll receive an email invite from someone interested in sharing with you. You’re able to turn off alarms and alerts as you wish, but can’t view anything the sharer hasn’t given you permission to see.

Keep an eye out for future blog posts helping walk you through Share Etiquette (yep, it’s a thing!) and the ins and outs of setting up these apps.

THE (FUTURE) DETAILS: DEXCOM G6

As mentioned above, G6 is NOT yet available in Canada, but we wanted to get everyone primed with what to expect should it hit the market.

  • Communication: Still bluetooth! It’ll be able to talk to your compatible phone and G5 receiver (as well as some insulin pumps – More on that soon!)
  • Size: The transmitter has a 28% lower profile (meaning it sits closer to your skin)
  • Transmitter life: Still 120 days.
  • Sensor life: 10 day-wear!
  • Calibrations needed: NONE! Perhaps the biggest advancement is that the G6 will never require a calibration. No more finger sticks. Ever. (Okay, every now and then you might have to, but let us be excited, okay?)
  • New inserter: The new sensor inserter has totally been redesigned. You won’t see the needle and the insertion will be via a push of a button, not a plunge of a needle.
  • Acetaminophen blocking: Using acetaminophen when on your Dexcom will no longer be an issue.
  • “Urgent Low Soon” alert: Predictive alerts are now a thing. You’ll be able to adjust settings so you’ll know when you might be low, before you actually hit a low. You can already set your alerts for this with the G5, but “Urgent Low Soon” is a new alert with G6 that will warn you if it predicts you will be 3.1 or lower within the next 20 minutes.

I’VE HEARD THAT THERE IS A SUBSCRIPTION PROGRAM WITH DEXCOM? CAN YOU TELL ME MORE ABOUT IT?

The info below is taken from our previous blog on the topic:

To help reduce upfront costs and subsidize the transmitter cost over the course of a year, the G5 is sold on a subscription plan (although there are opportunities for you to buy it straight up… but we really don’t think it’s worth it. See notes below.).

Let us break it down.

The total amount you can expect to pay for a year’s worth of transmitters and 6 boxes of transmitters is CAN$3108, paid on through a subscription service with sensors coming every other month, and a transmitter arriving at your doorstep every 3 months. Remember – You don’t need a receiver with this system. If you DO want a receiver, you can pick one up for CAN$499. You can also pick up extra boxes of sensors anytime – CAN$340 for 4. Note that there are 4 sensors in a box, and the subscription plan only requires that you purchase a minimum of 6 boxes per year, which gives you some flexibility and keeps costs down

Because everyone loves direct comparisons, let’s assume your G4 transmitter lasted a full year. Here’s what costs you were looking at:

I REALLY VALUE THE EXPERIENCES OF THE COMMUNITY. ARE THERE ANY REVIEWS OF DEXCOM OUT THERE YOU COULD SUGGEST READING?

 

Sure! You think just like us. Check these out (note: some of these posts are from the US so the BG measurement they reference is different from what we use here in Canada. Don’t worry. People are generally happy with a BG of 100 in the US!):

HOW IS DEXCOM ENGAGING WITH THE TYPE 1 DIABETES COMMUNITY?

 

So, of course, we’ll start with the ways that Dexcom is supporting CIM’s programs in Canada – And they’re doing it in big ways!

Dexcom Canada is a Summit Sponsor for Connected in Motion in 2018. This means that they are on board in the biggest of ways to help us bring all of our regular programming to life, including our new Platinum Club Slipstream and 5.5er Slipstream! They’re also supporting our 2018 Adventure Team through their sponsorship, which means that 100% of the money raised by the team goes back into subsidizing and expanding CIM programming across Canada.

Dexcom Canada is a Founding Sponsor of Friends for Life Canada, helping us to bring Children with Diabetes’ signature program to Niagara Falls in 2018. Their support means that more families are able to attend than ever before!

Dexcom Canada is also a Lead Sponsor of CIM’s Ontario Slipstream in Partnership with Beyond Type 1. We hope we’ll see you in Ontario so you can give the Dexcom Team a high five, directly!

And Dexcom Canada is also supporting other Type 1 forums with Diabetes Canada, the upcoming JDRF Walks, and other regional Type 1 events.

Okay, I’ve got it! If I want to try it out or talk to someone at Dexcom, what are my next steps?

Head on over to the Dexcom Website and fill out this form (scroll down.) That will give you access to all of the information you need and people you need to know to take the next steps, whether that’s checking devices stats in more detail, getting a feel for customer services, or ordering your first box of sensors.

Disclaimer: Although this is not paid content, Medtronic, Omnipod, Tandem and Dexcom are national partners of Connected in Motion. Our views may be biased because of these partnerships, but we still thought this information was helpful for the community.