Tuesday, October 09, 2012

G4 Platinum

The big news in the US diabetes online stuff is that the FDA approved the Dexcom G4 Platinum. It's shipping now, and I can order one as soon as my warranty on this one is up (in two days). I'll be waiting until I use up my sensors for the 7+ though, 'cause they won't work with the new system, and hoping my 7+ receiver works that long.

I just downloaded and watched the entire G4 Platinum tutorial (ugh) and here's what I learned that I didn't get from just looking at the press release and website:
- It is still only approved for belly sites, still has a problem with acetominophen, sensors still have the same storage recommendations, still can only be calibrated in the 40-400 mg/dl range (I am in the 30s often enough to be annoyed by this), still need to be calibrated every 12 hours, have a 2 hour warm up, and want two readings at that point, and still continue to provide readings if you miss a 12 hour calibration point. It also still has a 55 mg/dl low alarm you can't turn off, and still vibrates before beeping no matter how you set the alarms.
The transmitter is now expected to die after 6 months. Minimed has a transmitter it warranties for only 6 months and the 7+ transmitter is warrantied for a year; for me that was one of the selling points of Dexcom. But the tutorial says the transmitter will last roughly 6 months and that the receiver will give you a warning that your transmitter battery is dying, after which the transmitter is expected to last only one more week.
The range is now advertised to be 20 feet rather than 5 feet. Which is great, but apparently that 20 feet thing is only when you're out of water. Which means it might not help me in the swimming pool. It is still true that the sensor and transmitter (when attached to a sensor) are waterproof but the receiver is not even splash resistant.
Although the website says (in the for professionals section) that you can calibrate no matter how fast blood sugar is changing, in the tutorial it says not to calibrate when blood sugar is changing at a rate of 2 mg/dl/min or more. Since mine is doing that what feels like most of the time, that's an issue.
While watching the set up thing in the tutorial, I noticed that the settings for the low alert now offers an option of a low alert at 85 mg/dl (currently Dexcom only offers these low alert options: OFF, 60 mg/dl, 70 mg/dl, 80 mg/dl, 90 mg/dl, and 100 mg/dl). Hopefully this means that there are now more options to choose from for both high and low alerts.
For alert settings, there are now alert "profiles". Rather than being able to individually set each alarm to off, vibrate only, or vibrate then beep, you now choose from one of five profiles, which are: Vibrate only, Alarm Softly, Normal, Loud (they have a special name for loud), and Hypo Repeat (which is Normal, except the hypo alarms get louder and louder). You'll notice there doesn't seem to be an off option. Except for the fact that there's a loud option (which it desperately needs) this does not strike me as much of an improvement.
The sensor looks the same. My guess is that it's really only different by the way that the transmitter attaches, because the transmitter is shaped slightly differently.

So now, I have a few questions in my mind.
 Question one is, what if my Dexcom 7+ receiver, which is almost out of warranty, breaks before I use up my remaining sensors (which will be in roughly 6 weeks)? Will I be able to pay for a new 7+ receiver without  having to pay the $400 upgrade price (which is what is being charged if you bought a 7+ system before September 2012 and want to upgrade).
Question two: There are three color options, pink, blue, and black. The pink doesn't look real macho. Should I get blue or black?
Question three: So, say my G4 transmitter dies. Will insurance really pay for two transmitters per year? Will Dexcom really replace it for a reasonable price?
Question four: Is the system really as basic as it looks in the training video???

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