Diabetes: Comparing Glucose Monitors

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Have you recently been diagnosed with diabetes? Or maybe you have had diabetes for several years. Choosing the right glucometer for you can be overwhelming. As technology advances, so does diabetes equipment and supplies. In this post, I will discuss some of the more popular brands of glucometers and various features offered.

Glucose monitoring systems were first introduced in the late 60s/early 70s which required multiple, and sometimes complex, steps to obtain readings.1 In 1963, Ernie Adams created the DextroStix which was a strip of paper that created a varying blue color based on glucose concentration in the blood and then compared to a color chart.2  The first glucometers which were considered easier to use at home were introduced in the early 80s.1  Meters used today contain an enzyme in the test strip which reacts with blood sugar. This reaction is then detected by the meter providing the number you see on the screen. Some of the more popular brands today include Accu-Chek, OneTouch, Freestyle, Contour, and pharmacy/grocery store brands.

Let’s start with Accu-Chek. Each meter has its own unique features. I’m going to point out the more important ones in my opinion that set them apart. For those who are tech savvy and want their results automatically uploaded via bluetooth to their smartphones, the Aviva Connect is the best option. Although it appears all of their meters work with other phone apps as well but are not as focused on technology. Most meters appear to have large print on their screens. The Aviva Expert is not the best option for someone who has trouble seeing, but it is the only option available from Accu-Chek that will calculate insulin ratios and may be best for type 1 diabetics or sensitive/uncontrolled type 2 diabetics on insulin. A nice option they provide is an all-in-one meter which has a lancet device attached to it and a roll of 17 test strips are pre-loaded inside the meter. What I like best from Accu-Chek is the FastClix lancet device. Instead of loading a single needle into the device each time you test, you place a drum of 6 needles in the device and it rotates to change to a new, clean needle. I find it very convenient and easy to use. All of the meters from Accu-Chek use the FastClix lancet device except for the Compact Plus.

Moving on to OneTouch, the Verio Flex is the best option for tech savvy users. It has bluetooth technology to automatically load results to your smartphone. All of the OneTouch meters have large print for individuals who have a hard time seeing. One unique feature of the Verio IQ meter is the battery is rechargeable saving you money on battery replacements.

Next up is Freestyle. Bluetooth capability is not available for any of their meters making this not so ideal for those looking for a more high tech meter. However, you can still plug these meters into your computer to upload your results. Freestyle does offer an insulin friendly meter called InsuLinx which can be beneficial for type 1 diabetics and type 2 diabetics on an insulin regimen. Another great option for those who may not have great insurance coverage is the Precision Neo which offers over-the-counter test strips. The good news is, for those who require a larger display, Freestyle features this on all of their meters.

Contour has some of the best options available for type 1 diabetics on insulin pumps. The Next Link 2.4 and Next Link are compatible with the MiniMed 630G and the MiniMed 530G systems respectively. The Contour Link meter is compatible with the MiniMed Paradigm REAL-Time Revel insulin pump. These meters were made specifically for insulin pumps by wirelessly communicating with the pump making this a discrete and convenient option. The other nice feature with the Contour Next Link 2.4 and Contour Next Link meters is the USB rechargeable battery system. For the tech savvy users who like the USB concept but are not on an insulin pump, the Contour USB or Contour Next USB might the one for you. Or if you like the bluetooth technology, Next One maybe be a better fit. All of the meters, except for the Next Link 2.4, are able to be connected in some way to software online where you can monitor your results over time. Individuals with arthritis may find the Contour Breeze2 to be a good option. It comes with a disc containing 10 test strips which you load all at once. This meter also had commendation from the Arthritis Foundation for this design. Those who need a larger display to view results may want to consider the Contour Next EZ, Contour Next, or Contour meters.

For pre-diabetics, I suggest finding an over-the-counter option such as Reli-On Prime which can be found at Walmart. The meter and supplies is less than $40 and can last for several months for someone checking twice per week. I recommend an over-the-counter option for pre-diabetics because most insurance companies do not cover for any meters or supplies. That being said, if someone who is diabetic does not have insurance coverage, this can also be a great cost effective solution. Paying for meters and supplies out of pocket can be expensive.

When determining the best meter for you, it’s important to make sure your insurance will cover the supplies for that specific meter. Once you have the details from your insurance provider, make a list of features you are most interested in having in a meter to find the best fit for you.

Sources

1 The History and Future of Blood Glucose Monitoring. Diabetes Self-Monitoring Magazine. https://www.diabetesselfmanagement.com/blog/history-future-blood-glucose-monitoring/ 

Glucose Meters: A Review of Technical Challenges to Obtaining Accurate Results. Ksenia Tonyushkina, M.D.1 and James H. Nichols, Ph.D., DABCC, FACB. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2769957/

Disclaimer: I am not endorsed by or receiving compensation from any products listed in this post. The information above includes my own opinion as well as facts about the meters which can be found on their respective websites.