- Abbott just announced the launch of LibreLink in Sweden, a free Android app for scanning FreeStyle Libre sensors, eliminating the requirement for the separate touchscreen reader. Further EU launches are planned for 2016. Pictures below, and many more are in the official user guide.
- LibreLink adds patient convenience, marks Abbott Diabetes first foray into connected devices, matches the no-receiver-needed marketing of Dexcom’s G5, further improves the FreeStyle Libre user experience and cost profile, and reduces the hassle of data downloading.
Today, Abbott announced the launch of LibreLink in Sweden, a free Android app for scanning FreeStyle Libre sensors, eliminating the requirement for the separate touchscreen reader. There is no official press release and we cannot find LibreLink on the Google Play store, but a fact sheet, quick start guide, and user manual include pictures and instructions (see some below), and Abbott told us the app is available today in Sweden. Further EU launches are planned for 2016, including France, Germany, Netherlands, Italy, Spain, and UK. An iPhone version is in the works.
LibreLink adds patient convenience, marks Abbott Diabetes first foray into connected devices, matches the no-receiver-needed marketing of Dexcom’s G5 mobile, further improves the user experience and cost profile, and reduces the hassle of data downloading. LibreLink is a huge step for Abbott and makes the FreeStyle Libre product experience even more enticing – per Abbott 3Q15, Libre demand continues to outstrip supply for this transformative, 14-day factory calibrated sensor.
The LibreLink app functions just like the FreeStyle Libre reader. Once it is installed on an Android phone with NFC, a user can start a sensor and obtain real-time glucose information by briefly holding the back of the phone near the sensor. The phone then immediately shows the current glucose reading, trend arrow, and eight-hour history. The app doesn’t have to be open to initiate the scan process, though the phone must be unlocked. The sensor can only link with one device, so users must decide whether they want to use the reader or the app. LibreLink maintains the excellent report features from the FreeStyle Libre reader, though adds color and allows users to email reports right from the phone!
LibreLink is CE-marked and tackles a clear market demand – Glimp, an unauthorized Android app for reading FreeStyle Libre sensors, has been downloaded in the range of ~1,000-5,000 times (according to Google Play), with fairly good reviews (4/5 stars, n=85). What is scary about Glimp is the provided glucose results differ from the reader slightly. LibreLink brings an approved product to market in a far better user interface. Notably, AirStrip Technologies developed, maintained, and is providing LibreLink – we salute Abbott for partnering outside its walls to bring this important software innovation to market. And given the hassle of frequent software updates, Abbott is brilliant to have outsourced the maintenance.
Another advantage of LibreLink is that it’s free, eliminating the startup 59.95 euro ($64) cost of the touchscreen reader. That Abbott can continue to drop the cost of this device is remarkable indeed, and a compelling point of differentiation from CGM.
- Abbott is moving on connectivity just as Dexcom’s G5 (US and EU) and Medtronic’s MiniMed Connect (US) launched this fall. We are glad to see traditional medical device companies recognizing the value of connectivity and apps for patient convenience, an improved user experience, more seamless data sharing, and hopefully, improved healthcare provider interactions and outcomes. This has been an important year for connectivity in diabetes devices, and we cannot wait to see where things go in 2016 and beyond.
- The website www.librelink.com was not working at the time of publication on Friday, though came online as of Tuesday, November 17. On Friday, we found the fact sheet below on a non-Abbott website, though it is now posted on www.librelink.com.
- The FreeStyle Libre sensor can only link with one device, so users must decide whether they want to use the FreeStyle Libre reader or the LibreLink app during the 14-day sensor life. This is different from Dexcom’s G5, which allows users to trade off using the receiver or G5 app. LibreLink does have several points of differentiation over Dexcom’s G5 mobile app: (i) initial Android compatibility (G5 is currently only Apple iOS); (ii) no need to open the app to obtain a glucose reading (G5 gives notifications on the lock screen, but requires opening the app to see the actual reading and trend); (iii) no requirement to purchase the reader device (Dexcom users must buy the G5 receiver, even if they don’t use it); and (iv) fully disposable sensor/transmitter (the G5 Bluetooth transmitter lasts three months). Obviously the products are not identical in terms of sending data continuously, though we think it’s useful to compare the mobile experience of both devices.
- LibreLink will send notifications for sensor life and status, and allows users to set reminders and alarms. These notifications can appear outside the app, similar to other Android applications.
- LibreLink has been tested on nine different Android devices, including the very popular Samsung phones: Samsung (Nexus, S5, S4, S4 Mini, Note 3), Sony (Experia Z, Experia SP), HTC One, and Motorola Razr XT890.
- AirStrip is working to develop a version of the LibreLink app for Apple’s iOS, though only the iPhone 6 and Apple Watch support NFC at this time. We’ve long wondered if Abbott would develop a Bluetooth-enabled FreeStyle Libre sensor, though it seems like NFC might work for both Android and iOS going forward.
- As expected, there is no updated timing on an FDA submission of the consumer version of FreeStyle Libre. The blinded FreeStyle Libre Pro is at FDA, with a potential launch in 2016. We assume LibreLink would be included in an FDA submission of a consumer version of FreeStyle Libre, but are not positive about that.
- Who is Airstrip Technologies? AirStrip is a digital health company based in San Antonio, Texas focused on interoperability. The company is famous for having developed several mobile apps for patient monitoring. AirStrip’s investors include Sequoia Capital, Qualcomm, and Leerink Partners.
- All available FreeStyle Libre products, including LibreLink, have been developed in accordance with regulatory processes. These processes ensure compliance with local regulations, safety, and performance in line with the intended use. Currently, LibreLink is the only mobile app that has been approved to work with FreeStyle Libre sensors.
Pictures of LibreLink
-- by Adam Brown and Kelly Close