Apple Watch Can Be a Critically Helpful Medical Device

I went into a test drive of the Apple Watch Series 3 thinking it could be a real game changer for diabetes management. Now I'm thinking it should be considered by anyone with a chronic illness.

I'll tell you why in a sec.

First, the most important Series 3 feature for people with diabetes isn't available yet, but it will be soon, maybe within the next few months, after the Food and Drug Administration gives its blessing.

I have Type 1 diabetes -- the autoimmune kind, not the more common Type 2 typically associated with obesity. Like many Type 1s, I wear a sensor on my abdomen called a continuous glucose monitor to measure my blood sugar level.

This technology has been around for about a decade, but it's only within the last few years that the accuracy of continuous glucose monitors has gotten good enough to count on.

Here's how it works: My sensor, made by San Diego's Dexcom, sends my glucose numbers to my iPhone, which in turn transmits them to my Pebble smartwatch for easy viewing. Very convenient.

Soon, however, the Series 3 will cut the iPhone out of the equation, allowing my sensor to interact directly with the watch via Bluetooth. That means if I leave my phone at home, or if I'm at the gym, I'll still have ready access to my numbers.

That may not sound like much to someone with a working pancreas. But for a person with diabetes, this is a very, very big deal.

As with most chronic diseases, diabetes management is all about data. Having access to real-time data in the simplest way possible -- in this case, a glance at your wrist, no phone required -- represents a huge step forward.

Apple and Dexcom tell me the FDA's approval is imminent.

In the meantime, I can report that the...

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