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Gluroo: A User-Friendly App that Streamlines Diabetes Management

When retired ex-Facebook and ex-Google executive Greg Badros's son was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, he searched for an app that offered real-time blood glucose tracking, remote monitoring, instant messaging, and comprehensive logging. When he couldn’t find a fit-he created his own.

Gluroo: A User-Friendly App that Streamlines Diabetes Management

Being a parent to someone with type 1 diabetes (T1D) can be challenging. Your child, whom you’ve tried to protect, is now vulnerable to the many variances they probably aren’t even aware of: low blood sugar episodes, diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) and diabetes complications.

When T1D falls to the caregiver, it becomes a grueling process of controlling something outside of yourself. It’s even more challenging when your child leaves your side and heads off to school, practice or overnight getaways.

This is why apps like Gluroo are so valuable, as they allow you to monitor your glucose levels, track insulin dosing and meals, set alerts and reminders, and much more.

Also, more adults with type 1 and type 2 have discovered that Gluroo decreases the diabetes load and helps users make informed decisions about their food, exercise, and medication.

According to a National Institutes of Health study, users of diabetes apps for self-management, improved self-care behaviors like tracking glucose levels and general health and exercise over non-users.

Gluroo Backstory

Greg Badros, Founder and CEO at Gluroo, received his doctorate in computer science and engineering at the University of Washington (Seattle) and has spent most of his career building product and engineering teams – and coding himself.

Badros was Senior Director of Engineering at Google and then joined Facebook where he was Vice President of Products and Engineering. Badros, who retired in late 2013, was hit with an upsetting shock when his seven-year-old was diagnosed with T1D in 2020. 

While on a ski trip, their son was drinking water constantly and threw up after a sugary hot chocolate. It was clear in hindsight that his body was fighting hyperglycemia, but Badros's family had no idea yet about diabetes. When they returned home, their primary care doctor sent them to the ER after a 450-blood glucose fingerpick. His son had low ketones and, fortunately, no DKA.

“They gave him a shot of Lantus and trained us in diabetes at Stanford, which has great diabetes educators and endocrinologists,” said Badros. Since his diagnosis happened at the start of COVID-19, they were able to keep him home and monitor his diabetes care closely.

“This was 2020, right at the start of the pandemic. He was diagnosed in February, and everything was in lockdown. They sent everyone home from school in March. We weren’t traveling, we weren’t leaving the house, so we just used paper logs to track everything. We did shots for probably the first year. I looked at all the apps out there, and nothing met our requirements.”

Spotlight: Gluroo Imaginations, Inc.

Instead of accepting apps that didn’t meet his family’s needs, Badros decided to build one.

What started as a texting app for the family to convey information quickly became an interactive management tool with many features. His son quickly moved to a continuous glucose monitor (CGM), but they delayed use of an insulin pump because he saw these devices lacked accessibility. The main issue was that the personal diabetes management (PDM) system paired with his insulin pump wasn’t sharing information.

“We were a mixed Android and iOS family, and we just wanted something that let my kid feel ownership of his chronic condition,” said Badros. “We had a diabetes-specific group chat and were texting, but there weren’t any apps that allowed us to track our son’s logging, to see him bolus, or correct a low with sugar.”

“None of the apps contemplated a child with diabetes, with other people supporting them,” said Badros. “There was only the following app from the CGM manufacturer, which let you do some of that, but it doesn’t let you log stuff usefully.”

Enter Gluroo: A Chat App and Diabetes Logger

“I thought it was a good time to create something useful others could benefit from,” said Badros. “I found a couple of phenomenal students from Stanford, hired them as founding interns, and together we built the minimal viable product in three months. We have been growing our friends and family testing all the way through to where we are now—which is over 43,000 users in over 100 countries.”

Gluroo began in 2020 and is now expanding its user base, bridging the gap between approved devices and users’ real-time data. Apps like Gluroo, a free comprehensive, cross-platform option—help parents regain their equilibrium with remote monitoring of real-time glucose levels and trends.

Though the app was built for type 1s because of a personal connection, it’s now finding great success with people of all ages and all types of diabetes. Many adults also find these viewing solutions beneficial.

Gluroo for T1D and T2D Adults

What started as a diabetes messaging app for parents to follow their child’s blood sugar quickly evolved into a more adaptable resource that adult T1D and T2D individuals find helpful.

“We have plenty of adults using it independently,” said Badros. “The adults that seem to benefit the most from it are the ones who care about learning from their logging. We also have a strong following in adult type 2s, with over half of our users, because we’re crazy fast at logging and have the best widgets, calendar integration, and are the only solution that captures Omnipod 5 bolus information in real-time. Plus, we’ve started expanding to families connecting with their care providers, and that care provider piece is the big new news of Gluroo.”

Badros said their focus has been on patients and families, but now they’d like to seamlessly get the information to healthcare professionals. “We’ve had more patients sharing their data with their doctors rather than the doctors asking them to use Gluroo—and we’re going to try to flip that so we have both of these things going in a virtuous cycle.”

Gluroo Special Features

Gluroo has many key app features for the all-encompassing tracking of food, insulin, devices, supplies, and exercise (e.g., via Apple HealthKit integration). The remote monitoring allows for real-time CGM values, trends, and pump mode alerts.  

Calendar Integration

When Badros worked at Google, he led the Google Calendar, Google Reader, Orkut, and Gmail teams. With Gluroo, he worked around the issues surrounding real-time data readings by working with a calendar data complication.

“You can’t really do a data complication on iOS that updates every five minutes, much less every one minute like a Libre sensor updates. Because Apple doesn’t allow you to update data on a locked screen or watch regularly because of the battery life reduction.”

“The only thing that is allowed to update on a watch every minute is a calendar data complication,” he said. “So, we write the most recent blood sugar reading into the calendar so you can see your blood sugar as a current event. If you’re using the current ‘show me my events,’ you can see your blood sugar as a current event. The only way to get an up-to-date blood sugar reading on an Apple watch is by writing into the calendar.”

Watch Access

“Our philosophy is to make it super easy to log data in a shared way and make that very useful in all kinds of different contexts,” Badros said. “One of the most important contexts we’ve seen is people wanting to see their loved ones or their blood sugars on their smartwatch.” Gluroo has a Wear OS watch app that seamlessly provides CGM values, Insulin On Board, and Carbs On Board both for the Person With Diabetes and their followers.

Diabetes Care Team – GluCrew

Today, a diabetes care team might include friends and family, endocrinologists, school nurses and nutritionists. Gluroo allows you to stay connected to your GluCrew, whether in the next room or across the globe.

The benefits of Gluroo sharing are that it allows the viewing of real-time data and open communication regarding critical daily decisions (meal boluses, insulin corrections, meal details, and pump settings).  

Users can adjust settings with smart notifications and actionable alerts. If the individual doesn’t respond to low blood sugar within a few minutes, Gluroo will alert the GluCrew. This patent-pending innovation reduces alerts for followers and develops responsibility in children with diabetes because they get a chance to operate independently before being nagged by dad or mom.

Gluroo Meal-Snap Shot

Users can take pictures with the Gluroo camera to remember what they ate, when they ate, and if they exercised before eating. You can enter the picture of the food, what they bolused, and the carbs given. “We have users taking pictures of every meal they eat,” said Badros. “They’re just food blogging, and that way, when they go high or go low, they can see what they ate and what they dosed.”

“It’s unrealistic for someone to type in a whole lot of details about what they ate and label everything about their meal, but if you take a quick picture, your brain remembers all those other details the next day when you’re like, 'what the heck went wrong', and you have a prolonged high. You can look back at your meal and fix it for next time.”

Search Functionality

Another Gluroo feature is the personal catalog of restaurants. Users can #restaurants to see how bad the high or low blood sugar level was after eating. As you log meals, insulin, and events, you build a valuable database of personalized information.

Track Diabetes Supplies

One unique benefit Gluroo offers is diabetes supply tracking. Users can point the camera at a device’s QR code, and the camera records a new sensor. Gluroo knows how long it will last and warns when it’s time to change. “We’re planning to put those reminders in the calendar part to show you when it’s time to change a sensor.”

Badros said another popular feature Gluroo has is to auto-fill Dexcom's failed sensor report. Gluroo users can hit one click to auto-fill the form on the website. It went from a 10-minute phone call to a 15-second process. “That was one of the adult Dexcom users’ favorite features in the first year,” Badros said. “It sometimes breaks when Dexcom changes their form, but we provide new releases regularly.”

Gluroo Connectivity

Gluroo integrates with certain CGMs and specific insulin pumps, connecting all the information in one place. You can also easily log daily injections with smartpens, insulin pens, vials, syringes, and more.

Badros’ son was on the Omnipod DASH system before switching to using DIY Loop and DASH pods. “I made Gluroo work really well with Loop. So, we are a very good follow-up solution for people using Dash pods and Loop, especially if you’re on Android. You have no choice because Loop is an iOS-only app, but if a parent wants to use Android, you’ve got no follow-up solution on Android for Dash, so that’s another place where we uniquely create value.”

Later they switched to the Omnipod 5 automated insulin delivery system on Android. Badros had to innovate in order to make Gluroo automatically record bolus information from the OP5. “We are the only app that the minute my son starts his bolus for lunch, like 20 seconds later, I will see a message saying, 'delivering bolus', a notification pops up on my phone, and then when it’s complete, a message will say, in the Gluroo event logs, he just bolused four units.”

Gluroo currently connects with the following CGMs:

Gluroo supports the following insulin delivery systems:

  • Insulin pumps: Omnipod DASH, Omnipod OP5.
  • Medtronic InPen (via Apple HealthKit)
  • DIY Looping devices, anything that writes to Nightscout with more planned.

With Gluroo, users can program vital reminders about ordering supplies and changing sensors through AI messaging. Gluroo is currently not connected to Tandem and Medtronic pumps, but Badros encourages users to reach out and ask those manufacturers to work with Gluroo. 

AI Chat Bot

Gluroo now has an AI Chat Bot in beta testing that understands an individual’s situation and does not just answer diabetes-related questions. “It can answer things like, ‘When’s the next time I have to change my device,” Badros said.

The initial name of Gluroo was Gluru, a sugary play on "guru", because they wanted to make a messaging app like your diabetes guru that understood all messaging.

Gluroo Kangaroo Logo

“My son, my wife and I were in a group text before I built Gluroo, and it was just for diabetes chat.” Badros asked his kids how they would spell it, and they all said Gluroo – which gave them the idea of using a kangaroo logo. “I really like the idea of using the kangaroo; they’re fierce and cute.” 

Achievements

The Gluroo app shoots fireworks and confetti when a log item is entered into Gluroo.

“We do things like wiggle the kangaroo’s ears when they have a message,” said Badros. “Kids dig a bunch of those kinds of things. But we really haven’t had enough time to build out all of the gamification I would like to, with streaks for time in range (TIR), but from the early days, we’ve been trying to make it engaging.”

School Nurses and Diabetes Camps

Badros has been demoing Gluroo with school nurses, helping to meet their requirements. A school nurse has an impossible job managing 12 or more people with diabetes in a school district.

Engineers are working on a web application for nurses and diabetes camps that will allow them to see multiple users in a status mode. This way, they can track device and sensor changes and intervene when necessary. We’re hoping to roll out Gluroo with a bunch of diabetes camps this summer, where they’ll be able to see all their campers and real-time data.”

Clinics

“Clinics will be a really important part of the picture as we go forward. We’ve made good progress in our go-to-market and have our first clinic using Gluroo to track a patient with a web-based application,” said Badros. “A clinic down at Cedars-Sinai is tracking a patient with Gluroo; it’s still in very early testing. We’re doing this because it’s a hard disease to manage. It’s hard when you’re a parent, especially if you have several people in your family with diabetes.”

Simple and Efficient

Users also now have access to the web-based version of Gluroo. If you’re searching for a quick way to log and track diabetes-related information, Gluroo is available on Android and Apple devices. The remote monitoring app provides users and their caretakers with access to leverage information with “peace of mind.”

DiabetesMine called it “The simplest yet most comprehensive diabetes tool you may ever need.”

“We’re now focusing on the US healthcare system to reach clinics because it’s what we know best,” Badros said. “We’re trying very hard to keep Gluroo free for the end user. Diabetes is too expensive already, and I’ve been fortunate in my career to bootstrap what we’re building here, and even though we haven’t taken venture funding, we hope to find the right business model to ensure it has a long life.”

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