All About the FreeStyle Libre


The FreeStyle Libre by Abbott is a continuous glucose monitoring system (CGM) that includes two components: a disposable sensor worn on the body and handheld reader. The already-calibrated sensor automatically monitors blood glucose every minute and is worn on the back of the upper arm. Using the reader, people with diabetes simply swipe the reader over the sensor to perform a one-second scan and receive their blood glucose results instantaneously. Every scan provides the current reading, a trend arrow and a graph that shows the history of the past eight hours of readings.

What is a “Flash” Glucose Monitor?

Flash glucose monitoring is a method of testing blood glucose that functions as a hybrid of a traditional fingerstick and continuous glucose monitoring. FGM users can check their blood sugar with the reader’s built-in meter and use the sensor to receive trend information similar to that provided by a CGM.

FGM differs from continuous glucose monitoring because there are no automatic alarms or alerts issued by the system in the case of a high or low blood sugar. The FreeStyle Libre is currently the only flash glucose monitoring product available. It is also the longest-lasting self-applied CGM product on the market.

The FreeStyle Libre monitor offers tools to help the wearer understand their blood sugar patterns. Explore your data with graphs of daily patterns, a percentage of time users were within their blood glucose target and a mapping of particularly low blood glucose events.

Key FreeStyle Libre Features:

  • Flash glucose readings provide a current blood sugar as well as a trend line to understand where your blood sugar is headed
  • Libre does not offer alerts for low or high blood glucose levels at this time
  • The reader houses a built-in blood glucose meter which is compatible with FreeStyle test strips
  • FDA-approved for usage by people 18 or older
  • No fingerstick calibration is required by the FreeStyle Libre so users can administer insulin solely based on its readings, though it is recommended that users test with a fingerstick when symptoms don’t match those readings or when blood glucose levels are changing rapidly.

What’s New From FreeStyle Libre?

In 2018, Abbott released their second-generation CGM called the FreeStyle Libre 14 Day System. The company stated this device is the longest-lasting self-applied sensor on the market by allowing users to wear it for two weeks. It also cuts the warm-up period down to only one hour in contrast to the previous 12-hour window. 

The FreeStyle LibreLink app is available to iPhone users in the U.S. as of November 2018. Users simply hold their iPhone near the FreeStyle Libre to readily view real-time results. The same graphs and trends displayed on the meter are available for viewing on the LibreLink app as well. Users must simply pair the app to their sensor to start utilizing the helpful tool.

The next generation of FreeStyle Libre devices will be eliminating entirely the need for scanning with a handheld reader or smartphone. This new and improved system functions even more so like a CGM, with continuous Bluetooth data-streaming and high or low alerts for those who want them.

How Can I Get a FreeStyle Libre?

The FreeStyle Libre is covered by Medicare for those with diabetes who meet the eligibility criteria. Information regarding coverage eligibility can be found here. Discussing a switch to FreeStyle Libre with your doctor is the suggested first step. A discussion guide with helpful tips is available here. A prescription is required to obtain the flash glucose monitoring system, followed by a visit to a participating pharmacy to fill the prescription. FreeStyle Libre’s meter and sensor are sold separately.

FreeStyle Libre is a Founding Partner of Beyond Type 2.

WRITTEN BY Beyond Type 2 Editorial Team, POSTED 01/08/19, UPDATED 08/24/22

This piece was authored collaboratively by the Beyond Type 2 Editorial Team.