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The Freestyle Tracker has been discontinued. This page is provided for historical information.

Overview

The FreeStyle Tracker Diabetes Management System from TheraSense combines the data management capabilities of the Handspring Visor with the highly rated FreeStyle testing system to produce a unique and innovative product -- the first PDA-based blood glucose monitor. Unfortunately, because of the discontinuation of the Handspring product, the FreeStyle Tracker has also been discontinued.

The FreeStyle Tracker module is a FreeStyle system that has been reconfigured to fit into the Springboard expansion slot of a Visor PDA. The FreeStyle meter is very highly rated, and the FreeStyle Tracker module will serve you as well as the FreeStyle does. What sets Tracker apart is the sophisticated data management abilities of the FreeStyle Tracker software that runs on the Visor. The FreeStyle Tracker is much more than a blood glucose monitor--it essentially creates a new kind of device, the PDA monitor. (Other companies are also working on integrating a blood glucose monitor into a PDA.)

Features

Key features of Tracker include:

  • Smallest blood volume required for testing (0.3 microliters)
  • Alternate site testing
  • Test results in an average of 7 seconds
  • Extensive data management capabilities of the FreeStyle Tracker software
  • 2500 event memory (1.7 years of data at four tests per day)
  • 2500 item food database with portions and carbohydrates (ships with 1,700 entries and has room for 800 more)
  • Full capabilities of the Visor PDA

Evaluation

The FreeStyle Tracker System is not a typical blood glucose monitor, so as you consider it, keep in mind that this is a PDA that also does blood glucose measurements. It's not as small as current meters, and with the PDA, it's more expensive. Once you get past the cost of the device, it uses the same test strips as the FreeStyle, so it costs the same to use. If you use a Palm device, want to, or want the absolute cutting edge technology, Tracker offers a level of diabetes management sophistication that you won't find in any other product.

To test, you must first turn on the Visor and click the FreeStyle Tracker program if the FreeStyle Tracker module is already in place or insert the FreeStyle Tracker module. The FreeStyle Tracker program will display a screen that shows the test strip being inserted into the module, which is telling you that it's time to put in a test strip. Next, you must click to confirm the calibration code or select a new one. This is more work than a FreeStyle meter, where you simply insert the strip and, in a couple of seconds, you're ready to test.

Testing at night with the FreeStyle Tracker requires that you turn on a light. That can be an issue for some parents who test their child each night. The PDA does have a backlight so that once the test is taken the result and any subsequent analysis can easily be view in low light or dark situations. Since you can enter blood glucose values into the FreeStyle Tracker manually, you can just as easily use another meter for middle-of-the-night testing.

Once you're ready to test, the strip is the same as the FreeStyle, though the FreeStyle Tracker is larger than the FreeStyle meter and requires a lighter touch when holding the device up to the blood sample. Results are as fast as FreeStyle, and display in a large, easy-to-read size. You can make a comment with each reading, as well as noting how long it's been since you last ate. You can also note insulin taken (injection or bolus) as well as exercise, making the Tracker a virtually complete digital diabetes diary. As mentioned above, you can also add blood glucose readings manually into the Tracker application on the Visor, in case you test with more than one meter. It helps to know Graffiti to enter data, but it's not critical -- you can always use the pop-up keyboard on the Visor, like all Palm applications.

Tracker provides a variety of ways to view your data. The graphs (line, pie, and modal day) offer concise views of your data and make it very easy to spot patterns. The diary lists data sequentially in time, one entry at a time. The Logbook shows two days worth of data on the screen at a time. The statistics display provides a three-screen statistical summary of glucose, insulin, and meal data. Tracker lets you filter the data displayed in sophisticated ways. By default, you see all data. But if, for example, post-dinner blood sugars are a challenge, you can filter any display to show only those readings. This filtering ability can help you find patterns to improve your diabetes care.

Pump users will be right at home with Tracker, as it allows you to enter in up to five basal profiles and enter bolus events. It even understands temporary basal adjustments. All current insulins are included in the selection, including Humalog, NovoLog, and Lantus, with the ability to add new insulins and other medications as they become available.

The FreeStyle Tracker System works only with Visor PDAs. If you already own a Palm or other PDA and want to use Tracker, you will need to get a Visor. Tracker and the Visor work with Windows PCs only, not Macintosh computers. Visor PDAs that are supported include the Deluxe, Edge, Neo, Platinum, Prism, and Pro. According to TheraSense, all Visor models above the basic 2MB Visor PDA are compatible with Tracker. Complete compatibility information can be found on the Tracker web page.

For Visor users who use a hard or soft case, the Tracker module extends a little over an inch beyond the top of the PDA, so the Visor with the Tracker module in place might not fit inside your existing case. Be sure to measure.

The FreeStyle Tracker System comes with PC-based software that communicates with the Visor during a HotSync. Data from the Visor is uploaded to the PC for viewing. The PC software will display the diary or log book, but not the graphs. The PC software also expands to fill the full PC display and cannot be resized, which is a minor annoyance. You can print log book data to take to your diabetes team, but you cannot print graphs. This is a shortcoming compared with other PC-based diabetes management systems. However, you can use the free, web-based FreeStyle Co-Pilot system to upload data and print graphs from your PC.

Summary

The FreeStyle Tracker System brings a new level of sophistication in diabetes management to your hand in the form of a PDA module. For adults with diabetes who already use a Visor PDA for business, Tracker is an excellent choice for a glucose meter and means one less thing to carry. For teens who are interested in using a PDA, or who want to take advantage of the advanced data management tools, Tracker is certainly worth considering.

For young kids who test on their own, a traditional blood glucose meter would likely hold up better to the abuse kids deliver to meters. Parents of young kids who do all the testing, though, would see the same advantages that adults and teens would -- sophisticated data management, pattern visibility, food database, small sample size, and alternate site testing capability.

The real question is whether Tracker, with its sophisticated data management capabilities and food database always at hand, is better than a traditional meter with PC-based data management. The answer depends a lot on what your needs are. If you eat out often, the food database makes it easier to determine carbohydrate values for foods, but not all restaurants are included in the initial database. If you like having the latest and greatest technical tools, Tracker is certainly an innovative product that allows you to keep the most sophisticated diabetes management tool available today in the palm of your hand. To take full advantage of Tracker, you must be willing to enter a lot of data, including all insulin taken (injection or pump bolus), carbs eaten, and exercise. If you do so, Tracker will provide you with an unprecedented amount of information to help you manage your diabetes.

Because of the cost of the PDA and the fact that the PDA isn't as rugged as a traditional blood glucose meter, young kids who test by themselves may be better served by a regular meter and PC-based data management software used by their parents. Older kids might find the displays of Tracker interesting, and the games and other features of the PDA may be an inducement to these kids to try out Tracker.

Tracker Rating

  • Ease of use: 9 (must tap screen to get past calibration screen, large size)
  • Features: 10 (PDA-based data management, 2500 event memory, 2500 item food database, alternate site testing, very small blood volume)
  • Speed of results: 9 (average of 7 seconds)
  • Suitability for use by children under ten years old: 7*
  • Suitability for use by children over ten years old: 10
  • Cost: 1 (about $99 per 100; $1,144/year @ 4 tests/day)**
  • Overall Rating: 46

Notes:

* The Visor PDA, like any PDA, is designed for use by adults. Young children may find the Visor a little large and PDAs are not as rugged as stand alone blood glucose monitors.

Logo   Abbott Diabetes Care
1360 South Loop Road
Alameda, CA 94502
(510) 749-5400

See Also

  Product photo
The Tracker System: a Visor with the Tracker Module inserted into the Handspring slot in the back. Click for a larger view.

Product photo
Screen snapshots from the Tracker PDA. Click for a larger view.

Product photo
Tracker side-by-side with a FreeStyle. Click for a larger view.

Product photo
Exploded view of the Tracker components. Click for a larger view.

Last updated July 6, 2006

The reviews of products are the opinion of children with DIABETES. Each product is reviewed with a single purpose: to determine if the product is suitable for use by children with type 1 diabetes, their parents, and, to a lesser degree, adults with type 1 diabetes. There are many products aimed at adults with type 2 diabetes that are not appropriate or suitable for children or adults with type 1 diabetes.


                 
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