The Newest in Blood Glucose Monitoring Devices (Continued)
Compared to the slimly designed Verio strips, Telcare's strips were much larger and easier to grip and handle. Additionally, the Telcare strips returned very consistent results when I tested multiple times in a row. Like the Verio IQ, these strips are also very accurate (see table at end of article for more information). However, compared to those for the FreeStyle InsuLinx and Verio IQ, Telcare's strips required more force to insert into the meter. As we understand it, this was a necessary design choice to support the device's improved accuracy. I also got "Not enough blood" errors more frequently on the Telcare meter than either the Abbott or LifeScan devices.
Telcare's meter retails for $150 and the retail list price for 50 strips is $72 (comparable to strips from other leading brands), but this includes the cost of all the cellular data. If bought through Telcare's website, test strips are slightly cheaper ($56). Given the higher cost relative to other meters, it's encouraging to see that Telcare is offering a $50 discount on the meter to people who subscribe for a year of test strips. As we understand it, most patients have insurance coverage for the meter and strips through retail pharmacies, although it is a special order item. Additionally, insurers are increasingly reimbursing patients who order directly from Telcare's website. Those interested in the meter can assess their insurance coverage at http://telcare.com/support/tcoyd3/. Medicare will provide reimbursement for strips and for the meter on the same basis as other glucose meters – as we understand it, this means that Medicare will pay for the first meter in the range of $50 per meter and the patient can pay the balance themselves.
Abbott FreeStyle InsuLinx
- Intuitive touchscreen interface
- Computer software stored on the meter and helpful data reports
- Ability to log rapid-acting and long-acting insulin doses
Although the Abbott FreeStyle InsuLinx was approved in Europe in May 2011, it just secured FDA clearance in March 2012. The meter, according to the company, will be launched "in the coming months" (Abbott has not disclosed a formal timeline or pricing details), but I had a chance to demo it soon after its regulatory approval. In my view, the meter's major innovations include an easy-to-use touchscreen, the ability to record insulin doses, and excellent computer software.
One of its major highlights is an intuitive, touchscreen user interface. Similar to any other touchscreen device I've ever used, the menus were quite easy to navigate through by clicking the appropriate icons. It was not quite as simple as an iPhone, but it was certainly easier than the button manipulation required by traditional meters. Unlike the Telcare and Verio IQ meters, the FreeStyle InsuLinx does not have a color screen. It wasn't a hindrance for me, though the print and on-screen icons struck me as quite small at times. Still, there's no doubt that the touchscreen is a major plus, and actually, the fact that it's black and white carries the benefit of a longer battery life compared to the rechargeable Telcare and the Verio IQ (the FreeStyle InsuLinx's two CR2032 "coin cell" batteries last about 3,000 tests before they need to be replaced).
Abbott's new meter will use specific test strips branded for the FreeStyle InsuLinx; however, I was glad to see that the new FreeStyle InsuLinx strips appear very similar in look and design to the current FreeStyle Lite strips that I've always been a fan of. While testing, I really liked that I could tag a reading as pre- or post-meal while the result countdown was occurring – this smart innovation made me much more likely to add a meal mark compared to Telcare and the Verio IQ, which only allow marking the result after the test occurs. After tagging a reading, I was also able to add notes (e.g., exercise, illness, etc.). I was impressed to see that notes can be completely customized by using the included Mac/PC FreeStyle Auto-Assist software (e.g., morning bike ride, Chinese restaurant meal, etc.).
The FreeStyle InsuLinx also includes the option to manually log both rapid-acting and long-acting insulin doses. Because I use an insulin pump, I did not find this feature that useful. However, I would guess that for those taking insulin injections, logging doses in the meter would be a much more convenient and useful option than keeping logbooks and having to manually log both insulin and blood glucose data. Users can adjust whether full or half-units are displayed (tenths are unfortunately not available) and the dose-logging feature can also be completely turned off (factory default has it turned on).
To aid in data analysis, the FreeStyle InsuLinx will use the new FreeStyle Auto-Assist software, offering some important innovations in downloading and reporting. The FreeStyle InsuLinx connects to the computer using a provided micro USB cable (commonly used with BlackBerry cell phones and other electronics). Notably, the FreeStyle Auto-Assist software actually resides on the meter, meaning that reports can be generated on a PC or Mac and settings are saved onto the FreeStyle InsuLinx itself – as a Mac user who often uses PC-centric diabetes devices, I was excited to see this.
The FreeStyle Auto-Assist software can generate six different reports, savable as PDFs for emailing or printing. I was a big fan of the Snapshot report – it gives a broad summary of glucose and insulin information. Most noteworthy was the "Notes" section of the report, which displays a number of customized, actionable messages based on a user's data (e.g., "Pre-meal blood glucose was within target 95% of the time"). I consider myself fairly data minded, but I often find diabetes data reports somewhat overwhelming. I was glad to see simple, actionable takeaways in the "Notes" section, which should help both users and their healthcare providers pinpoint areas for improvement.
The Road Ahead
Overall, I would be excited to use any of the meters featured in this test drive. All have strengths and weaknesses, but the trends toward improved usability (the FreeStyle InsuLinx touchscreen), improved information analysis (the Verio IQ's pattern analysis), and easier data uploading and management (Telcare) are encouraging. I'm optimistic that the coming years will bring a greater improvement in diabetes devices that integrates consumer electronics, data analytics, and mobile/web technology to reduce the daily burden of diabetes.
|LifeScan OneTouch Verio IQ||Telcare||Abbott FreeStyle InsuLinx|
|Accuracy Under 75 mg/dl (% of points within 10 mg/dl of lab value)||100%*||95%*||92%*|
|Accuracy Over 75 mg/dl (% of points within 10 mg/dl of lab value)||95%*||98%*||90%*|
|Retail Cost (without insurance)||$69.99||$150 ($100 with a one-year strips subscription)||To Be Determined|
|Blood Sample Size||0.4 microliters||0.7 microliters||0.3 microliters|
|Test Time||5 seconds||5 seconds||5 seconds|
|Battery||Rechargeable (lasts 1-2 weeks on a two-hour charge)||Rechargeable (if always left on, lasts 2-3 days on a single 90-minute charge; if turned off between tests, lasts for over 100 tests)||Two replaceable coin cell batteries (lasts for 3,000 tests)|
|Size/Weight|| 3.5 in x 1.9 in x 0.5 in |
| 3.9 in x 2.4 in x 0.6 in |
| 3.8 in x 2.4 in x 0.6 in |
|Software||PC only (stored on local computer)||Web and iPhone||PC and Mac (stored on meter)|
*Due to differences in study design, accuracy results may not be comparable. The higher the number reported, the more often the meter's value fell within 10 mg/dl of the true laboratory value (i.e., the more accurate the meter is). The current FDA requirements mandate that at least 95% of points must be within 15 mg/dl of the lab value for readings under 75 mg/dl and within 20% of the lab value for readings over 75 mg/dl. All three meters exceed this requirement.
This article is published on dLife thanks to diaTribe (www.diaTribe.us), an independent, advertising-free e-newsletter for everyone eager to learn about the latest advances in diabetes management. diaTribe is your inside track on diabetes research and products — sign up here for your complimentary lifetime subscription!
NOTE: This information is not intended to be a replacement or substitute for consultation with a qualified medical professional or for professional advice related to diabetes or another medical condition. Please contact your physician or medical professional with any questions and concerns about your medical condition.
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