Diabetes is a complex and serious disease that affects multiple aspects of a person’s life. It requires constant attention to lifestyle decisions and ongoing self-monitoring of glucose levels to ensure they stay within a healthy range. For people living with diabetes, being able to check their glucose levels at any given time is an important, yet challenging part of managing the disease.

Despite this need, glucose monitoring hasn’t evolved for decades: a painful finger prick, a drop of blood on a test strip, followed by inserting the strip into a glucose meter and waiting for measurement. This provides people with diabetes one measurement at a certain point in time versus accumulated data over time to make informed decisions. However, the latest evolution in glucose self-monitoring systems offers a solution that’s easier, faster, and yields richer data called flash glucose monitoring. It was recently added to the 2018 Diabetes Canada Clinical Practice Guidelines1 released in April 2018. This is an innovative new category in self-monitoring for people with type 1 and type 2 diabetes.

Constant monitoring for greater learning

The latest evolution in glucose self-monitoring systems offers a solution that's easier, faster, and yields richer data. The FreeStyle Libre2 system from Abbott is the first-ever flash glucose monitoring system that automatically measures, captures, and stores glucose level data so that people living with diabetes and their health care professionals can see patterns over time and make lifestyle, diet, or treatment adjustments as needed.

The FreeStyle Libre system consists of a small self-inserted sensor that is applied to the back of the upper arm. It also includes a digital reader or the FreeStyle LibreLink app for your iPhone3, which, once scanned over the sensor, shows your eight-hour glucose history, current glucose value, and a trend arrow. The reader can hold up to 90 days of data, providing a historical snapshot of the glucose levels over time.

For Canadians living with diabetes, the system provides valuable insight into daily activities and how foods affect the body while predicting the highs and lows that allow them to better manage their diabetes. It also reduces the need for constant blood testing through routine4 finger pricks.


 Photo: kipgodi/Shutterstock

Improved ease of use a major benefit

In May of this year, Health Canada licensed Abbott’s FreeStyle LibreLink mobile app for use with compatible iOS smartphones, giving users of the FreeStyle Libre system the choice to monitor their glucose levels directly on their iPhones with a simple download of the free app.

Doug Melnick, a retired senior from Burlington, ON was diagnosed with diabetes in 2016 at the age of 70. He credits the FreeStyle Libre system for helping him manage his diabetes without medication. “I’ve been able to control my blood sugar because [it] continuously monitors my glucose levels so I can schedule my eating habits around those levels,” says Melnick. “I could not do that if I had to take blood samples all the time.”

Mélanie Montreuil of Drummondville, QC, has been using glucose meters to manage her diabetes since 1984. She describes the FreeStyle Libre system as a ‘revolution’. “What I like most is the speed with which one can measure and get results, and the fact that you can test yourself anywhere, anytime easily — even in the middle of the night.” Montreuil is enjoying the extra time and freedom the device has given her. “Testing used to delay me, but now I feel liberated,” she says.  Another feature Montreuil likes is the way the results are displayed. “It’s not just a number. You know if you’re going up and down,” she says.

While flash glucose monitoring — an innovative and helpful technology in diabetes management — is covered by most private insurance plans, it is not covered under provincial health insurance plans. Many Canadians, especially seniors on a fixed income, find it difficult to afford. “I think it would be very helpful if the government could provide some help in covering this,” says Melnick. “We don’t need constant medical follow-ups because we control our blood sugar better with this system.” Montreuil agrees: “It would be great to have it covered by our social medical insurance.”

If you believe this innovative technology should be covered, talk to your member of provincial parliament and encourage provincial governments to make a positive reimbursement decision for this product.

This article was sponsored by Abbott DIabetes Care, a manufacturer of diabetes care products in Canada. These are actual testimonials from FreeStyle Libre system users and Abbott has consent to use their story and consent is on file.


1Diabetes Canada Clinical Practice Guidelines Expert Committee. Monitoring Glycemic Control. 2018 Can. J. Diabetes. 42-S47-S53. Accessed October 2018.

2The FreeStyle Libre flash glucose monitoring system is indicated for measuring interstitial fluid glucose levels in adults aged 18 years or older who have at least 2 years experience in self-managing their diabetes. For Vitro Diagnostic Use Only. Always read and follow the label/insert for detailed instructions and indication of use. 

3The FreeStyle LibreLink app is compatible with Near-field Communication (NFC) enabled iPhone 7 and higher running iOS 11 or higher.

4A finger prick test is required using a blood glucose meter and is required during times of rapidly changing glucose levels when interstitial fluid glucose levels may not accurately reflect blood glucose levels or if hypoglycemia or impending hypoglycemia is reported by the system or when symptoms do not match the system readings