Below are the most commonly used categories of diabetes devices. For more information, click the links below to learn how these devices work and what supplies you need to use them. Plus, you’ll find links to in-depth write-ups on some of the top devices in each category, including our test drive articles where members of our team try out the devices themselves and give their personal, no-holds-barred experiences with the devices.
Blood Glucose Meters and Strips - Blood glucose meters (BGMs) measure a person’s blood sugar level at the specific moment of checking. To use a meter, people insert a test strip, prick their fingers with a lancing device to draw blood, and then put a small drop of their blood onto the test strip. The meter gives a blood glucose reading in mg/dl (US standard) or mmol/l (European standard).
Continuous Glucose Monitors (CGMs) - Continuous glucose monitors (CGM) measure the body’s glucose levels in real-time by sensing the glucose present in tissue fluid (also called interstitial fluid). While a blood glucose meter (BGM) measures the blood glucose level at a specific moment in time (when you prick your finger), CGMs typically provide a new glucose level every five minutes, meaning 288 times per day.
Injection Pens - Injection pens are used for injecting a drug in a patient-friendly way that is easier than using a syringe. For diabetes, they are most often used for either insulin or glucagon injections (type 1 and type 2 diabetes) or GLP-1 agonists (type 2 diabetes). While injection pens might be more expensive than a vial and syringe, they are more convenient, less painful, and easily storable and transportable. They essentially combine the vial and syringe, allowing greater dose accuracy and easier administration of doses.
Insulin Pumps - Insulin pumps are devices that deliver insulin without the need for manual injections. They are able to administer rapid-acting insulin in both basal (slow, baseline) and bolus (mealtime) capacities once users program their dose into the device. In addition, many pumps come with built-in bolus calculators, which can reduce the hassle of manual insulin dose calculations.
Automated Insulin Delivery Systems (Artificial Pancreas, Closed Loop) - The development of automated insulin delivery has many names – artificial pancreas, hybrid closed loop, bionic pancreas – but all share the same goal: using continuous glucose monitors (CGM) and smart algorithms that automatically adjust insulin delivery via pump. The goal of these products is to reduce or eliminate hypoglycemia, improve time in range, and reduce hyperglycemia – especially overnight.
Mobile Coaching Services - Mobile coaching services help connect people with diabetes to healthcare professionals virtually, in real-time. These programs can be found online or as apps for a smartphone. Mobile coaching aims to advise people on their health and improve diabetes management through access to 24/7 remote care.
Please note, this page is not a comprehensive list of all products or resources available.
The Ella Fitzgerald Charitable Foundation sponsors ongoing maintenance and updates of this Diabetes Devices resource page.