Continuous Glucose Monitoring: A Review of Successes, Challenges, and Opportunities

Diabetes Technol Ther. 2016 Feb;18 Suppl 2(Suppl 2):S3-S13. doi: 10.1089/dia.2015.0417.


Continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) provides information unattainable by intermittent capillary blood glucose, including instantaneous real-time display of glucose level and rate of change of glucose, alerts and alarms for actual or impending hypo- and hyperglycemia, "24/7" coverage, and the ability to characterize glycemic variability. Progressively more accurate and precise, reasonably unobtrusive, small, comfortable, user-friendly devices connect to the Internet to share information and are sine qua non for a closed-loop artificial pancreas. CGM can inform, educate, motivate, and alert people with diabetes. CGM is medically indicated for patients with frequent, severe, or nocturnal hypoglycemia, especially in the presence of hypoglycemia unawareness. Surprisingly, despite tremendous advances, utilization of CGM has remained fairly limited to date. Barriers to use have included the following: (1) lack of Food and Drug Administration approval, to date, for insulin dosing ("nonadjuvant use") in the United States and for use in hospital and intensive care unit settings; (2) cost and variable reimbursement; (3) need for recalibrations; (4) periodic replacement of sensors; (5) day-to-day variability in glycemic patterns, which can limit the predictability of findings based on retrospective, masked "professional" use; (6) time, implicit costs, and inconvenience for uploading of data for retrospective analysis; (7) lack of fair and reasonable reimbursement for physician time; (8) inexperience and lack of training of physicians and other healthcare professionals regarding interpretation of CGM results; (9) lack of standardization of software methods for analysis of CGM data; and (10) need for professional medical organizations to develop and disseminate additional clinical practice guidelines regarding the role of CGM. Ongoing advances in technology and clinical research have addressed several of these barriers. Use of CGM in conjunction with an insulin pump with automated suspension of insulin infusion in response to actual observed or predicted hypoglycemia, as well as progressive refinement of closed-loop systems, is expected to dramatically enhance the clinical utility and utilization of CGM.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Blood Glucose / analysis*
  • Blood Glucose Self-Monitoring / methods*
  • Diabetes Mellitus / blood
  • Diabetes Mellitus / drug therapy
  • Humans
  • Hyperglycemia / blood
  • Hyperglycemia / diagnosis
  • Hypoglycemia / blood
  • Hypoglycemia / diagnosis
  • Hypoglycemic Agents / administration & dosage
  • Insulin / administration & dosage
  • Insulin Infusion Systems
  • Monitoring, Ambulatory / methods*
  • Pancreas, Artificial
  • United States


  • Blood Glucose
  • Hypoglycemic Agents
  • Insulin