The Blood Sugar Puzzle: The CareLink System Puts the Pieces Together For You

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Diabetes is a chronic yet manageable malady; as such, it requiresconstant interaction between the person and the disease. You mustpay attention to the endless flow of information produced by yourvarious management tools.

But to interpret that morass ofinformation is mind-boggling. As Dr. Alan Marcus, Medtronic's Director of Medical Affairs, putsit, "you are faced with a pile of puzzle pieces, but it is verydifficult to assemble them into a coherent picture."

You can't step back and analyze the meaning of the informationbecause there is no obvious pattern; all you see is a confusingamalgam of momentary bits produced by your meter, your insulin, yourdiet, and your lifestyle. In fact, you may be blinded to thepatterns by the sheer volume of information.

Physicians also need to be able to see the blood sugar puzzle as acoherent whole in order to make informed decisions. But unless theinformation is already organized into landscapes that are amenableto quick and logical interpretation, they just don't have the timeto separate the wheat from the chaff and then groom it all into auseful set of patterns. So they end up piecing everything togetheras best they can and perhaps having to use guesswork to createpatterns.

That's where Medtronic's CareLink Personal Software comes to therescue. It gathers the puzzle pieces produced by all your tools,including your pump, your meter, your continuous glucose monitor,and your diet and lifestyle elements, and it arranges them into aneasily interpreted picture. By assembling all the data into tables,bar charts, and pie graphs, it provides visibility into what themass of information actually means.

And now, the new CareLink Pro system enables your physician toretrieve your personal CareLink data from the Internet, giving yourdoctor the perspective to base treatment changes on real patterns.How does the system work? You register for the software, hook upyour meter to your computer with a special USB cable, and thendownload your meter's information onto your own private site on theCareLink server.

If you have a Medtronic pump and a special meter called theParadigm Link Blood Glucose Monitor, the pump wirelessly sends yourinsulin information through the meter, which then sends it on to theserver. If you don't have a Medtronic pump, you don't need aMedtronic meter; the system will work with meters from several othercompanies as well.

You cannot manually input your insulin intake, but you can enterinformation about your food intake and exercise levels. Then, ifyour doctor has the CareLink Pro system, you can give him or heraccess to your private site.

Eventually, Medtronic plans to add a program to the CareLink Prothat will automatically interpret the patterns for physicians,allowing them even more time to make their treatment decisions.Meanwhile, you and your doctor can use the software to step back andreally see the whole picture.

Using the system is a bit like learning to read a map, in thatwith practice, the patterns take on more and more meaning. But witha little time and effort, the benefits to your self-management canbe great.

The personal system itself is free: all you need is a computerrunning Windows and connected to the Internet, Adobe Reader, and aninexpensive cable that you can buy from MiniMed or from your metercompany. Then register at the CareLink website atcarelink.minimed.com.

Sources: Medtronic
Dr. Alan Marcus, Director of Medical Affairs, Medtronic

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