- Today, Roche Diabetes Care and mySugr announced a global partnership to directly integrate the Accu-Chek Connect meter into the world’s most popular diabetes app, mySugr Logbook (600,000+ users in 51 countries). The integration will give patients everything for free: a Bluetooth-enabled meter and access to mySugr Pro.
- The integration went live today in Germany and Austria and will come to the US soon. Roche and mySugr will jointly co-promote the product.
- mySugr gets a major vote of confidence from a leading BGM player (dedicated press release, global partnership); eliminating manual BG entry for users; and co-promotion from Roche’s large established sales force. Roche gets access to world-class design and user experience in the popular mySugr app; the potential to sell more strips to high frequency testers; leveraging external innovation from an app expert; and a more competitive app offering to J&J’s Verio + WellDoc BlueStar integration.
Today, Roche Diabetes Care and mySugr announced a global partnership and co-promotion agreement. The deal will directly integrate the Bluetooth-enabled Accu-Chek Connect meter into the world’s most popular diabetes app, mySugr Logbook (600,000+ registered users on iOS and Android in 51 countries) – eliminating manual entry of blood glucose values and giving Roche’s meter world-class design from the mySugr team. Impressively, the integration will give patients everything for free: (i) an Accu-Chek Connect meter ordered directly from the mySugr app and shipped within a couple weeks (normally $19.99); and (ii) free access to the pro-version of the mySugr Logbook app (offering more functionality for $2.99 per month, including a bolus calculator in Europe).
Roche and mySugr will jointly market the product through their respective marketing and communication channels. The integration went live today in Germany and Austria and will come to the US soon; we assume it could also expand globally over time. No other deal terms have been disclosed, though each company definitely wins from this agreement – see below!
We had a chance to test out the integration over the weekend and were highly impressed with how tight it is on the connectivity and ordering fronts. The Accu-Chek meter automatically uploads results directly into the mySugr app via Bluetooth, just like it would for Roche’s proprietary Connect app – this doesn’t use HealthKit as an intermediary, a clear sign that Roche is committed to sustaining the great mySugr user experience. The mySugr app must be open on the phone for meter readings to transfer via Bluetooth, though it can be running in the background and the phone can be locked. We found the Bluetooth pairing process easier than with Roche’s own app (~20 seconds – seriously fast). If the phone is out of range following a test, the meter will backfill all the missing data into mySugr the next time it is in range.
- Major vote of confidence and statement from leading BGM player (including a dedicated press release)
- Direct meter-app integration (not via HealthKit)
- Global partnership (not just one country)
- Less manual entry – BG results automatically imported into mySugr
- Co-promotion from Roche’s large established sales force – expand awareness and uptake
- Giving mySugr users more value: free Accu-Chek Connect meter, free Pro version of the app (bolus calculator in EU, useful search feature, reports, ability to add photos, reminders, access to other mySugr apps).
- Non-exclusive agreement – mySugr has already integrated some BGMs (iHealth globally, iBGStar and GL50evo in Europe) and can still add others
- World-class design, user experience, and data analysis in mySugr app, more fun to use than Roche’s own Connect app
- Direct integration with the most popular diabetes app (600,000+ registered users, 51 countries, 12 languages)
- Potential to sell more strips to high frequency testers
- Enhances BGM, offering more value in mySugr app: estimated A1c, easier food and insulin tracking, bolus calculator in EU, etc. Plus, access to other mySugr ecosystem apps:
- Leverage external software/app innovation to someone who knows it better
- Staying competitive with J&J’s Verio + WellDoc BlueStar integration
- New service-focused business models?
This news continues two positive trends we’ve seen over the past few months: (i) BGM companies recognizing they need outstanding software to enhance the value of their hardware; and (ii) down-featuring hardware and up-featuring paired apps to offer more value for users and better economics for companies. This was an especially critical deal for Roche to sign, given J&J’s recent partnership to integrate WellDoc’s BlueStar software. We’re glad to see more established diabetes companies leveraging external innovation, particularly in BGM where the business has so many threats: declining margins, competition for high-frequency testers from CGM, type 2 therapies that don’t cause hypoglycemia. Can these promising software partnerships meaningfully enhance the value of traditional BGM? Can they enable new business and reimbursement models in diabetes? We are optimistic, as both put the patient experience first – offering more actionable data and real-time feedback, adding more value for less money, and providing the kinds of digital user experiences that patients have become accustomed to.
See more details below on the partnership, our demo of the integration, and background on mySugr.
- “This co-operation will bring true innovation to our customers,” notes Marcel Gmünder, Global Head of Roche Diabetes Care in the press release. We would underscore two words in that statement: “innovation” and “global,” which both represent what mySugr brings to the partnership.
- Innovation: mySugr’s unique approach speaks for itself, given the size of the user base (600,000+) and the broad suite of available features in the logging app: a bolus calculator in Europe, estimated A1c, the fastest entry logging of any app we’ve tried (blood glucose, insulin, food, pictures, orals, mood, location, and more), HealthKit integration, historical search (What happened last time I ate at this location? What happened last time I ate sushi?), robust data analysis and reporting, fun and gamification (e.g., tame your “diabetes monster”), more customization than any app out there (e.g., you can customize the entry screen itself, eliminating certain boxes that you never use), challenges, an ecosystem of other apps (Academy – education for type 2; Quiz – test knowledge of diabetes; Importer – using the phone camera to auto-import blood glucose readings [soon to be renamed Scanner]); and Junior edition), and a true focus on making “diabetes suck less.” We have always been highly impressed with this team and look forward to this partnership further expanding the company’s early success.
- Global: mySugr is available in 51 countries and 12 languages (German, English, French, Italian, Spanish, Swedish, Polish, Dutch, Danish, Finnish, Portuguese, Norwegian). As soon as the language is changed on the phone, everything adapts in mySugr. This was probably a very important partnership criterion for Roche, who is present in enough different countries, that an English-only app would not be acceptable.
Roche Connect + mySugr Integration Demo
- Once paired, mySugr will automatically receive results from the Connect meter. The app must only be open on the phone, but it can be in the background and the phone can be locked. Nice! Swiping right on the notification screen pulls up the mySugr app and allows additional details to be added to a reading – carbs, meal picture, insulin, use of the bolus calculator (Europe), etc. We love that the data transfer is automatic and users don’t have to change anything about their testing behavior – e.g., testing and putting the meter back in the case without pressing any buttons still sends the result to the phone. mySugr will also back-import readings if the phone is out of range. The app is also smart enough to merge entries together that overlap – e.g., a manual entry and an auto-imported entry.
- Users within mySugr can order a free Accu-Chek Connect meter – they must simply click on the card and enter their name and shipping address. The confirmation email has a nice personal touch and notes that the “fancy new meter” will arrive within a couple weeks. The card can be dismissed if it is not of interest, meaning the integration won’t be intrusive for those on other meters. The app automatically recognizes when the Roche meter is paired and upgrades the user to a Pro Account on the back-end – this adds a lot of valuable features (bolus calculator in EU, useful historical search feature, reports, ability to add photos, reminders, access to other mySugr apps). We love that the integration does not require a voucher code – it’s simply pair and go.
- Users with an existing Connect meter can directly pair it with mySugr – they don’t have to order a new one. This is very patient-friendly and great additional value for those already using Accu-Chek Connect.
- The Roche Connect Bluetooth pairing process happens within the mySugr app and took us about 20 seconds – super fast! It requires clicking on the Roche meter in the “supported devices” menu, then navigating to the pairing menu on the meter.
- mySugr already integrates with the iBGStar (Germany), GL50evo (Germany and Italy), and iHealth meters (North America & Europe), and can still integrate with other BGMs in the future. It is excellent for mySugr and for patients that this agreement is not exclusive – we wonder if J&J or Ascensia or Abbott would also consider integrating with mySugr.
- mySugr is kicking off a large TV advertising campaign in German-speaking Europe next week thanks to $2 million in prize money won last year. The ads feature the Accu-Chek Connect integration with mySugr and will be running over two, three-week spans (with a short break between). The team expects it to be pushed out just over 500 times total over the course of the campaign.
mySugr Logbook app and Company Background
- mySugr has a bolus calculator available in the EU as part of its Pro subscription. We hope this comes to the US! In Europe, mySugr’s bolus calculator is cleared as a class IIB risk device in a separate module from the Class I Logbook app. The company has not shared US plans, though we hope it is in the works – those on MDI stand to benefit from a well-designed, app-based, regulatory grade bolus calculator. Aside from Roche’s own Connect app or a pump, there aren’t widely used, FDA-approved tools for calculating mealtime insulin doses. We found the mySugr bolus calculator setup easier and more intuitive than a standard pump – the smartphone makes entering parameters so much faster.
- mySugr recently added an estimated A1c feature to the Logbook app. mySugr uses an average of at least three blood glucose measurements over the course of a week to forecast an estimated A1c value. Sanofi’s MyStar Extra meter, Medtronic’s CareLink, and Dexcom’s Clarity software also provide this metric. Estimated A1c is of course useful for patients to get a high-level snapshot on their diabetes and how it compares to goal (e.g., “Am I <7% in the past few weeks?”), even if it is is imperfect for capturing hypoglycemia and variability. We’d note that estimated A1c based on BGM results can differ from actual “lab A1c” due to differences in glycation of hemoglobin (e.g., anemia, racial differences) or simply meter accuracy (e.g., a meter consistently biased 15 mg/dl low, as some are). We wonder if some patients would find this discrepancy frustrating: “Huh? My estimated A1c says I’m a 6% but the lab says I’m a 7.5% - what?!”
- mySugr does integrate Dexcom CGM data from Apple Health, though it is still deciding how to display and interpret the data. For now, the CGM traces appear graphically in mySugr around a particular entry, though the CGM stats are not incorporated into the statistics panel. We hope this changes over time, since Dexcom’s G5 app does not offer statistics (only the separate Clarity app or web interface do). The partnership with Dexcom has not been widely publicized and we assume there are broader plans to do more with CGM data. Of course, CGM is not widely used in Europe where mySugr has a pretty strong following.
- mySugr on the web can also import data from Medtronic and FreeStyle Libre. These are not “official” partnerships,” though it’s impressive to see this compatibility is present.
- What’s the most used feature of mySugr app? The company told us no one feature really jumps out, since so much depends on each individual user. Some love the analysis, while others enjoy the interactive diabetes monster on the home screen – mySugr has built a lot of fun and gamification into the app, allowing users to “tickle” the monster and add entries to win points and “tame” the monster. mySugr also added 3-D touch compatibility with the new iPhone, meaning users can jump straight into an entry screen after pressing down on the mySugr logo.
- mySugr users love the ability to customize the entry screen (e.g., turning on or off different fields, rearranging the order they are displayed). We have not seen diabetes apps do this and love this ability to personalize. While entries like pills are critical in type 2, they are often not needed for type 1 users on insulin only; conversely, carb counting and insulin doses are a serious focus for type 1s, but less so in early stage type 2.
- mySugr hopes to increase the number of compatible devices for passive data collection: blood glucose devices, activity trackers, weight scales, etc. Aside from direct Bluetooth integrations, the company’s unique Importer/Scanner app can digitize certain glucose meter numbers using the phone camera – a very cool to automatically digitize non-connected devices without a cable. Presumably this could be expanded to other devices like weight scales.
- mySugr will build greater awareness in the HCP community in the US in 2016. The company exhibited for the first time on US soil at the AADE conference in New Orleans last August.
- mySugr’s website calls the Logbook app, “A loyal diabetes companion.” “With the right combination of technology, knowledge and motivation,” it notes, “people with diabetes can do anything. mySugr makes diabetes suck less – during crazy adventures or even just a normal workday.”
- Diabetes coaching seems like a product extension possibility for mySugr. This is the route Livongo is taking and OneDrop plans to take, and it would be a logical step for mySugr too. Of course, scalability and the reimbursement model are pretty challenging to get right with coaching – we wonder what mySugr has learned from 600,000+ users that could be built into a compelling coaching offering.
- mySugr raised $4.8 million last March and currently has 34 people full-time, including 12 living directly with type 1 diabetes. The customer support team is entirely people with diabetes – impressive! mySugr’s unique team brings over 227 years of life with diabetes to the table.
-- by Adam Brown and Kelly Close