Medical technology and all that goes along with it advances quickly. Modern healthcare gadgets are finding their way into your life making them much easier. Healthcare and diabetes gadgets are used “at home” as well as “on the go” for convenience offering simplicity, efficiency and more medical information which can certainly be helpful.
Obviously, home medical gadgets do not take the place of your health care provider and should never be used for self-diagnosis. Do not rely on them to diagnose friends or family members. They can be used to simplify your life and provide more information to you and your medical provider.
Getting “same day appointments” in today’s world is nearly impossible. Having some definitive numbers and information will be useful when you finally do get appointment and it may even lead to a diagnosis.
Some of these gadgets enable you to better manage chronic disease like diabetes, hypertension and heart disease. Never be negligent when you are having a true medical emergency. ADW does not recommend any of these brands over others. We are just making you more aware of some of the latest and well-received choices.
Let’s look at some newer medical home devices which may actually offer you good information.
1. Cardiac Devices – Portable EKG Monitors
Getting a mobile print out of your EKG at a moment’s notice can assist you in keeping track of your heart health. Since heart disease is the leading cause of death when you have diabetes, being able to check your heart rhythm may prevent an emergency.
It is a user-friendly smart device which can document atrial fibrillation (chaotic rhythm in the atria), bradycardia (slow rhythm), tachycardia (fast rhythm, PVCs (premature ventricular contractions) and other cardiac rhythm disturbances. It cannot detect heart attacks.
It works by placing your 2 index fingers on a 2-point sensor near your Smart phone and you will instantly visualize an EKG reading. You have the capacity to print it on your own printer or can be connected by an APP to your own physician or another medical professional. This could offer critical information quickly.
There are different brands but the most current and popular one is “Kardia Mobile.” It can detect cardiac arrythmias and heart rates without wires, patches or gels. Kardia Mobile is an FDA cleared device, created by cardiologists that uses one lead for a medical-grade EKG, as well as a 6 lead EKG.
It also offers a credit card size device with 2 sensors that easily fits and stores in your wallet. You can join a membership that can connect you with their cardiologists for a fee of $9.99 a month or $99 a year. You do not need to have the membership to get the print outs.
Other brands include:
- EK Graph Portable EKG Monitor
- Wellue Portable EKG Monitor
- EMay Portable EKG Monitor
- Beurer ME 90 Bluetooth Mobile ECG Monitor
These devices sell for between $80-130 in stores or online and are not currently covered by health insurance.
2. Sanitizing Travel Wands
Since the beginning of COVID, most of us are concerned with both bacteria and viruses that live on surfaces. By using a “handheld chemical-free sanitizing wand” you can cut down on germs, such as ringworm and salmonella, in 30 seconds. It is a UV-C light which dissipates “99.9% of bacteria and viruses.”
The wand uses UV-C light to disinfect. Just slowly pass the wand over the hard surfaces. “Home brands have lower dose UV-C light and may not be optimal if the conditions are not.” When searching for a wand, “look for brands and stay away from unsafe levels of UV-C radiation which may cause injury to the eyes or skin.”
Since the pandemic, the market has been flooded with “cheap and unregulated devices which cause more harm than help.” Find the ones which come with high recommendations. Always follow instructions and safety features and use them properly.
Wear gloves and eye protection when operating a wand. You can locate several brands in retail stores as well as online at different price points. Prices can be between $40 -$400.00.
- 3 B Medical Lumin Wand handheld UV light sanitizer
- UV-C light sanitizer Wand handheld UV sterilizer for office, home and travel
- Bio wand personal UV sanitizer
- Kleams – portable UV light sanitizer- powerful and fast, lightweight and durable. US customer support
- IPS IP Smart- UV light sanitizer disinfection for home, office, school and travel
3. Contactless Thermometer
Since COVID, we have been searching for devices that are “germ conscious.” The old, shared family thermometers were usually oral, rectal, armpit or ear based but touched each person’s skin and mucus membranes. Contactless thermometers are great devices that avoid actual skin/membrane contact.
Research has shown that “when used correctly, infrared or no contact-thermometers for home use are just as accurate as oral or rectal thermometers.” They are excellent for adults, children and even for large event screenings. Contactless infrared thermometers have become the gold standard.
Contactless thermometers “employ a lens to focus the infrared light emitting from the object onto a detector known as a thermopile.” When the infrared radiations go onto the thermopile, it gets absorbed and converts into heat. It can display temperature as Celsius or Fahrenheit.
The contactless thermometer is placed near the forehead or the temporal area. It displays temperature ranges less than 99.1F (which is normal and reads as green), 99.3F-100.2F (indicating low fever and reads as orange), and over 100.4F (meaning high fever and reads as red).
Your forehead skin temperature can vary depending on your environment, exercise, perspiration, direct sun, sitting near a fireplace, fan exposure, or air conditioning. Generally, it reads between 91-96F, since it reads the skin’s surface rather than the body’s core temperature.
- Braun NTF-300us
- Ankovo – No Touch Forehead and Ear Thermometer
- ADC Adtemp 429-Non-Contact Thermometer
Prices usually run between $10.00-$70.00.
4. Blood Glucose Monitors
Blood glucose monitors are one of the most important medical gadgets for anyone with diabetes. It prevents you from running to the lab or doctor’s office to obtain information about your blood sugars, easily and quickly. It helps you know if your current diabetes treatment plan is working.
“Daily blood sugar testing is a vital component of any successful diabetes management plan.” Blood glucose monitors are used as a reference for your daily progress. According to the FDA, “readings are 95% accurate within 15% for all readings within the usable blood glucose range and 99% accurate within 20% for all readings within the usable range.”
Manufacturers have their own quality protocols and standards. By knowing your blood sugar numbers in an instant, you can help prevent complications from blood sugar highs and lows. You can hopefully avoid hypoglycemia and hyperglycemia.
For instance, you can learn what makes your blood sugars go up like illness, steroids, smoking (nicotine), certain non-diabetes medicines, alcohol with mixers, infections, too many carbohydrates, eating processed food, skipping your diabetes medicine, too much food and dehydration.
You can also learn what makes your blood sugars go down such as exercise, taking your diabetes medication correctly, eating meals and snacks on time and in portion sizes, reducing your stress levels and sleeping 7-9 hours nightly.
You and your health care provider will develop a plan to decide when and how often you should test your blood sugars. It will depend on whether you have type 1 or type 2 diabetes, what type of diabetes medications you take, if you have diabetes complications, when and what you eat, and how long you have had diabetes.
Home blood glucose testing has come a long way and is “considered extremely accurate.” Home glucose testing can give you peace of mind that you are doing what you need to do to take care of your diabetes. You will also need a lancet device and lancets to prick your finger as well as specific test strips for the specific meter you are using.
Things to consider when getting a home blood glucose monitor:
- Price of the glucose monitor
- Insurance coverage – check to see which brand your insurance will cover
- Out of pocket costs – co pays
- Ease of use
- Special features – alarms, bluetooth capabilities
There are many choices but they generally all work the same way, and all offer multiple benefits. Always follow the manufacturer’s specific user manual and advice. Each meter comes with an 800-phone number which is connected to a representative who can talk you through difficulties or concerns with the product.
It may be worthwhile to set up “auto ship” order renewal program so you get better pricing and never run out of your supplies. Meters can cost between $20-$80.00. You may have supply co-pays even with insurance.
Some common brands include:
- True Metrix
These two talking glucose meters are specially designed for the blind:
- Prodigy Voice
- Embrace Talk
5. Continuous Glucose Monitors: CGMs
“CGMs are a worn device that automatically estimates blood sugar levels 24 hours a day.” It uses data to form a graph with a more complete picture of how your blood sugars change over time. Some CGMs are linked to insulin pumps, and some are independent.
A tiny sensor is placed under your skin (back of arm or belly) which measures blood glucose in “real time.” The sensor measures glucose in the levels of fluid under your skin called “interstitial fluid.” The transmitter sends the data to your phone or monitor.
It allows you to see and review blood glucose levels any time of day and helps you make more informed treatment decisions. Your physician may suggest a CGM especially if your diabetes is uncontrolled or if you take several shots of insulin or wear an insulin pump.
The information is downloaded onto a computer or Smartphone so you can easily track trends. An alarm helps you prevent emergencies by ringing when blood sugars are too low or too high.
The Benefits of Continuous Glucose Monitors
- Bigger picture of your diabetes
- Improved quality of life
- Better management of blood sugars
- Can be used short term to understand patterns or long term for tighter management
- Discreet and comfortable
- Offers much more information
- Less finger-sticks
- More feelings of safety
- More personal care
- End up with less high and low emergencies
- Not a diabetes cure but an excellent management tool
- Costs more than a blood glucose monitor but may be covered by your insurance or discounts may be offered, worth the additional cost
You should always first check with your health insurance company and get a prescription from your physician.
- Freestyle Libre
6. Home Air Purifiers
Since COVID, the use of home air purifiers has increased. They are especially useful for those with allergies, pet owners, and those with lung conditions such as asthma, emphysema or COPD. Using a HEPA filter, air purifiers remove “airborne particles such as dust, pollen, smoke and other pollutants.” They can also remove pet dander, viruses, odors, pollen, mold, and bacteria.
They improve the overall air quality in your home. There are different sizes for smaller or larger rooms. The fan draws air into the unit. The filter captures and pulls pollutants and particles from the air. Newly cleaned air then passes out of the filter and back into the room.
Air purifiers have become a popular and essential medical gadget for your home. Most home air room purifiers can range from $50-$800.00 depending on the size and features. Remember you must pay for the electricity and replacement filters as ongoing costs.
Examples of home air purifier brands are:
- Puroair – Blueair
- AirDoctor – PurOxygen
7. Fall Detection Gadgets and Devices
Since many elderly people live either alone or with another elderly person, fall detection gadgets and devices can help provide security when falling is a risk. Falls are the number 1 cause of injury-related death in the elderly. “1/3 of seniors living at home fall at least once a year and ½ the seniors that fall can’t get up on their own.”
Osteoporosis and arthritis are diseases of aging and make these falls even more lethal. Fall detection devices and services can help older adults remain independent and give their families peace of mind. They will send help quickly, typically within the first hour called “the golden hour” which is a critical time.
They can also alert caregivers when the sensors detect movement. Fall detection gadgets save lives. Generally, the systems have a set-up fee, equipment fee and monthly fee. They are mostly water-resistant and shower safe.
Some of the well-known fall monitoring systems are:
- SOS Home
- Get Safe – Medical alert system that uses devices to get medical help by triggering alarms
- Medical Guardian
- Medical Alert
- Bay Alarm Medical
- Smart Caregiver – Carry sensor mats, floor pads and cordless devices that alert caregivers
- Bluestar Sentry – Sends an alert by the push of a button that connects to your phone
- Sole Floor Systems – Flooring that provides caregivers real time alerts and can be customized
8. Smart Body Composition Scales
Your weight and BMI (body mass index) are important measurements especially when you have diabetes. They can be indicators of good or poor health. Smart body composition scales measure BMI, hydration levels, weight, body fat percentage and give you a more accurate picture of your overall fitness. The scale “syncs” with a dedicated App and tracks your progress.
A few different smart body scale models include:
- Qardiobase X
- Garmin Index S2
- Wyze Scale X
- Oxiline Scale X -Pro
The price for these kinds of scales usually ranges from $40.00-150.00. It may under-estimate BMI in the elderly due “to lose of muscle mass.” BMI scales may be covered by health insurance if “deemed medically necessary” and a prescription is written. Check with your specific provider.
9. Prescription Medication Online Sites
No longer do you have to go to a “brick and mortar” pharmacy to pick up your medication. There are many online pharmacies that can help you. Make sure to verify the site before you use them and make certain they are NABP (National Association of Boards of Pharmacy) accredited. This is a sound digital accreditation. Read reviews and find the ones that fit with you.
Some programs want you to be “members” and others do not force you into a membership. Some online pharmacies accept insurance and others do not. Good RX is an APP that compares prices of medication looking for the best pricing at drug stores and big box stores. It is free, easy to use and may be cheaper than getting medication through your insurance plan.
You can ask your pharmacist or pharmacy technician to compare prices for you. If you do use Good RX, the out-of-pocket payments will not go towards your insurance deductible.
10. Fitness Trackers/Smart Watches
These health and fitness gadgets are like “having a personal assistant” to help you take better care of yourself. They are both worn on your wrist. Fitness trackers are simpler. They are similar to an advanced pedometer. Fitness trackers can track steps, calories burned, distances, heart rate and stairs climbed.
Some fitness trackers can also track blood pressure and lung function. Smart watches are more advanced with dedicated Apps. They can send texts, emails, calls, give directions, track your sleep patterns and play music. Although these devices provide a lot of information, they should never be a “substitute” for a medical evaluation.
Some brands of fitness trackers include:
- My Fitness Pal
Some smart watches include:
- Apple Smart Watch
- Google Pixel Watch
- Samsung Galaxy Watch
These devices can range in price from $30.00-800.00.
11. Smart Pill Organizers
Most people in the US by age 60 take “6-8 prescription medications daily.” Some medications need to be taken more than once a day. Then there are vitamins, minerals and supplements you also take daily. How do you remember when to take them, how often, and how to keep it all straight?
It can be difficult and challenging and even dangerous when you take multiple medications. Medication errors can have serious medical consequences. Is it better to take them twice or skip them totally? There are now smart pill organizers such as Ellie Grid.
There are multiple compartments that organize your pills by type and that information is loaded on the App for you. The pillbox sends an alert which informs you of what pills and how many of each pill you should take. It also tracks your progress over time.
It even has sensors that could check to see if you took your pills. “Ellie” can send a family member a text or email to help you stay on track. You can also set up notifications for vitamins, minerals and supplements, inhalers, and liquids outside the box. It sells for about $140.00, and you get a full tutorial online to see how it operates.
There are other smart pill organizers such as Loba and Memo Box. There are also pill organizers that are less sophisticated and just help you organize your pills. They are more economical, but they do not have alarms or reminders about when to take your medication. The biggest problem is “taking the pills from the wrong section or out of order.” They include:
- The container store-7-day pill organizer
- EZY dose weekly
- E-pill med time
- Medica Monthly pill organizer
These are much less expensive and range from just a few dollars each to about $60.00.
12. Blood Pressure Monitors
Knowing and documenting your blood pressure readings can help you and your health care provider treat your blood pressure more efficiently and consistently. It can track patterns and helps you take charge.
Long-term hypertension can cause damage to your blood vessels, your heart, your brain, your kidneys, and your eyes. All of these body parts are at risk already when you have diabetes. Hypertension is very common with diabetes. Upper arm cuffs that automatically inflate are the most accurate for “at -home” use. Avoid wrist cuff monitors which are less accurate.
“The American Heart Association (AHA), does not recommend wrist or fingertip blood pressure monitors.” Having a blood pressure cuff that is connected to Bluetooth allows you to take your BP and “sync it with your Smartphone.” This gives your health care provider immediate information which leads to better treatment.
13. Anti- Snoring Devices
Most everyone snores now and then, but sometimes it can be a serious problem. Snoring is one of the “telltale signs” of sleep apnea, a common problem when you have diabetes. Sleep apnea is a serious sleep disorder where breathing repeatedly starts and stops.
All chronic snoring should first be evaluated by a sleep physician. Always consult with your health care provider to see if you have sleep apnea and get treated properly. There are C-PAP masks, oral devices and even new surgical techniques.
Snoring causes a “greater risk of high blood pressure, heart conditions and stroke.” Loud snoring can result for other reasons too. There could be a deviated septum, nasal polyps or another structural issue.
If you have ruled out sleep apnea, you may want to familiarize yourself with and try some of these anti-snoring aids. As with diabetes and lowering blood sugars, weight loss also helps reduce your snoring. Getting solid sleep is very important for diabetes control.
- Snorefix. It is a small, portable wristband, silent device that requires no maintenance. “The built-in sensors react to indications of snoring and send a gentle stimulation to the user which then causes them to shift positions and stop snoring.” Most people usually snore when sleeping on their back because sleeping on your back compresses your breathing system. An electrical impulse prompts them to change their sleeping position. There are 8 levels of electrical intensity which are strong enough to make you roll over but gentle enough not to wake you
- Smart Nora. A device that is a pillow insert to help you stop snoring. It consists of 3 main parts. “The pebble detects snoring. The padded pillow insert goes under your pillow and the silent pump inflates and deflates the insert.” This device received excellent reviews. How does it work? Some peoples’ upper throat muscles relax making their airway narrower when they fall asleep. Since you are breathing through a partly collapsed airway, the airway vibrates causing the snoring sound. Smart Nora stimulates the throat muscles by gentle movement in the pillow. This stimulates the throat muscles allowing for normal breathing to return. It costs about $360.00
- Breathe Right Extra Strength Strips. These strips open the nasal passages to relieve congestion and increase nasal airflow. Snoring is reduced by improving nasal congestion. They can be used anytime and anywhere and cost about $16.00 for a package of 44 single-use strips
- Osmo Lite Anti-Snoring Mouth. This is an anti-snoring mouthpiece that is adjustable and gets “high ratings”. It is easy to use and made of high-quality BPA-free flexible plastic. It costs about $100.00
14. Pulse Oximeters
A pulse oximeter can measure your heart rate as well as your blood oxygen levels. Pulse oximetry shows “how efficiently your blood is carrying oxygen to all of your body.” Since people with diabetes tend to experience heart problems too, it is best to analyze what you can at home.
“If blood sugars are out of control with an A1C over 7%, pulse oximetry overestimates your oxygen saturation. With long-term diabetes patients, many have reduced oxygen saturation due to reduced pulmonary capacity.”
Elderly people may have lower saturation levels as well. Finding abnormal oxygen saturation levels should result in a visit to your physician or an emergency clinic.
What is it? It is a small clip-on device commonly attached temporarily to your index finger. Small beams of light pass through the blood in your fingertip measuring the amount of oxygen.
An oxygen level readout on the device of 95% or higher is considered normal for most healthy individuals. An oxygen level under 92% indicates a low level of oxygen in the blood. It is less accurate for people with dark skin tones.
The list of convenient and reasonably priced health gadgets for people with diabetes goes on and on. Do your research to see which ones can help you take better care of yourself and your diabetes. It will be educational and satisfying to help direct some of your own care in a positive direction.