Stuttgart’s Bethesda Hospital has introduced a mobile glucose monitoring system that combines digital pen and paper a wireless glucose monitor with wireless Bluetooth technology.

The new mobile technology is helping patients with acute diabetes manage their illness more effectively so that long-term complications associated with the illness can be treated earlier.

A new telemedicine solution called DiabCareOnline from Germany’s Ontaris, combines a blood glucose meter and patient diary with the Anoto digital pen and a mobile phone to enable faster communication of patient data. The new system is already being rolled out to diabetes patients at Bethesda Hospital in Stuttgart, Germany.

For the patient, the monitoring process remains virtually the same as before: they measure their blood sugar with the meter and fill in their patient diaries. But instead of a normal pen they use the Anoto digital pen, which automatically captures their handwritten notes and converts them into digital format.

The digital pen looks like a ballpoint pen. But a tiny infrared camera at its tip tracks its movements relative to a grey dot pattern printed on the pages of the patient diary, recording what is written.

Both the glucose meter – Accu Chek Aviva from Roche Diagnostics – and the Anoto digital pen are Bluetooth-enabled. This enables results and diary entries to be transmitted daily via a mobile phone to the patient’s electronic health record.

The readings are then automatically compared with the patient’s specific blood sugar targets. If the readings are out of a given range the doctor in charge of the patient’s treatment can promptly intervene.

This fast response can improve a patient’s well-being as developing health issues associated with diabetes can be identified and addressed much more quickly. With much of the data analysis being handled remotely, diabetics also do not have to attend as many appointments as before – benefitting both patients and healthcare providers.

One of the main selling points of the new system is being user friendly, patients continue to use a familiar pen and paper, the version they use is just digitised. Ontaris says this makes the new diabetes management tool suitable for diabetics of virtually all ages.