Image: finger-prick-blood-glucose

New research has confirmed that continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) resulted in better glycemic control than “finger-prick” blood glucose meter (BGM) testing in patients with type 2 diabetes. Results of the large-scale, multi-facility study, led by the vice-chair of clinical research at University of Michigan Health, were published in the June 2021 issue of JAMA.

A CGM relies on a tiny sensor inserted under the skin to gather data that is then sent to the patient’s smartphone. It provides a constant stream of real-time data to the smartphone app, which lets the user track how diet and other choices affect their blood glucose levels. The system sends personalized alerts when blood sugar levels become too low or high. In comparison, BGM is an uncomfortable and inconvenient manual test that only provides a snapshot view of blood sugar levels.

The study, conducted across 15 United States health centers, involved 175 patients with poorly controlled type 2 diabetes. Roughly 50% of participants identified as a racial or ethnic minority. The participants were randomly assigned to either BGM or CGM data tracking. Over eight months, all patients received one or two daily, long-acting insulin injections. Some participants also used non-insulin prescription medications to lower blood sugar.

Results of the study showed that the use of a CGM significantly decreased levels of hemoglobin A1C, a blood component linked to blood sugar. Additionally, participants responded to the treatment protocol with improved adherence and reported greater life satisfaction. These benefits were consistent even across racial and economic backgrounds. 

Until now, many insurers limited CGM coverage to patients with type 1 diabetes because clinical evidence only supported its use for that condition. The success of this research could pave the way for wider health insurance coverage of CGM for type 2 diabetes.