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By David Mendosa

Last Update: May 1, 2001

Lifeclinic's Diabetes Channel is just about the easiest Web site that I've had the pleasure of writing about. The site is clear and straightforward, bright and attractively presented.

It's not that the information presented here is oversimplified. There's a lot of it, and it's well organized.

It’s like the ballplayer who makes an apparently effortless catch…

The Lifeclinic site as a whole has been on-line since December 1999, starting with a Blood Pressure Channel. Its Diabetes Channel has been up only since last December. Some promising parts of the Diabetes Channel, like parts of the resource locator, need time to be fleshed out, but what the company has done so far is outstanding.

The company behind the site is Spacelabs Medical Inc. of Redmond, Washington. A big part of my pleasure in researching and writing about this site was talking with Karyn Beckley, vice president of Spacelabs' Corporate Administrative Services. Karyn, who spends about 60 percent of her time on Lifeclinic, told me just what I needed to know when I called.

Spacelabs is big in monitoring. It started 42 years ago with a grant from the U.S. Air Force to figure out how to monitor astronauts in space. That was even before the birth of NASA.

"The first signal that came back from the moon," Karyn says, "was a heartbeat that came back on a Spacelabs monitor." And now, she says, the company is one of the world's largest providers of patient monitoring in hospitals, especially blood pressure monitoring.

So it's not surprising that blood glucose monitoring is part of Lifeclinic's Diabetes Channel. Once you log on as a member, you can upload your numbers manually. Or if you have a Bayer Glucometer Elite XL or LifeScan One Touch meter and connecting cable, you can upload them automatically. You can also track your blood pressure, pulse, weight, and cholesterol on the site.

When I talked with Karyn, they had just added three new features. The resource locator includes a diabetes expert locator (physicians, nurses, etc.) searchable by country, state, or city. You can search associations, education programs, financial assistance, government programs, research, support groups, and treatment centers by state.

The other new features are a diabetic supply guide and a diabetes and pregnancy section. Karyn says that while the foot clinic is now the most visited part of the site, she expects that the three new areas will be popular ones too.

The only thing I didn't like was the use of animated GIFs—flashing pictures—in the site's on-line advertisements. But fortunately you can stop them from moving and distracting you by hitting the <Esc> key.

One of the site's best features is "Ask the Doctor." The doctor in question is David McCulloch, M.D., a practicing diabetologist at Group Health Cooperative of Puget Sound and a member Lifeclinic diabetes clinical advisory board. Here you can ask him things that you don't have time to talk with your own doctor about or get a second opinion.

Everything about the Lifeclinic site is geared toward making it easy for you to use. Like the ballplayer who makes an apparently effortless catch, the site's ease of use is a sign of its professionalism. 

The American Diabetes Association originally published this article on its Web site as one of my “About the Internet” columns.

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