Latest meter may be a treat for type 1, type 2 management
The new Bayer Contour USB meter
Silver, black, blah. Most meters and pieces of diabetes technology are incremental improvements in quality of life for people with diabetes, so it's hard to get excited about yet another "new" meter. But this time I was pleasantly surprised – I've seldom been so excited to use a meter and upload the data as I was with the Bayer Contour USB.
It's exactly what it sounds like – a new meter with a built-in USB port, so you can immediately plug it into your computer (the meter is compatible with Windows 7, Windows XP, and Vista, as well as Mac OS X 10.5.7 and 10.5.8 – with more updates coming soon) to upload your data on the spot. It's rechargeable, so you can plug it in for a few minutes or overnight while you're sleeping – the familiar wall charger is also included.
It's hard to figure out where to start listing the accolades. It is simple and easy to get started, straight from the package. I'm also a fan of the colored lancets that were included, to mix things up a little bit. The lancet device could use some improvement though – it is curved and a bit awkward for smaller hands to hold and prick fingers with. Additionally, be sure to get enough blood. Unlike some other meters that give you a few seconds to squeeze extra blood if you don't get enough on the first try, the USB meter gives you an error message. This means a wasted strip – not good. However, the size of the meter is great. It's approximately the same length and thickness of a smart phone, so that with an improved lancet device and smaller bottle of strips it would be easy to slip in your pocket on the go.
Our easiest encounter with diabetes software to date: We simply had to plug in the device and double-click the icon to download our latest readings.
Additional features are also a breeze. There is a feature to mark whether the test is before or after a meal. You can add notes like "stress" or "sick" to help you track trends or look back. The testing itself is quick, with it counting down and then showing the result in large numbers on the entire digital screen. Unlike our previous concern with the Animas Ping's digital screen, this digitized screen is modern, bright, and easy to read and navigate, even in very bright daylight.
Plugging the meter into my computer was also the easiest encounter with diabetes software to date. Once removing the cap, the meter can be stuck into any computer port that accepts USB devices. It begins charging, and the screen shows the battery level and a warning not to test while the device is plugged in. It doesn't have to be plugged in and fully recharged; you can unplug it any time if you need to test. The software was also simple to open and use. Happily, I didn't have to download anything – once you open the USB icon that shows up on your screen, it immediately launches the software and synchronizes your data onto the program without having to push a single button. Once the software appears, you can customize the length of time you want it to show (past three months, past two weeks, etc) and review. Excellent.
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As I mentioned in an earlier post, one of the benefits that made it cost-effective for me to go with the real healthcare (HSA) plan rather than the phony (HRA) plan is that my company is now covering "preventative" medicines at $0 copay. The formulary for these, as stated by CVS/Caremark (my pharmacy benefits provider), covers all test strips, lancets, and control solutions. I dutifully get my doctor to write up prescriptions for all of my testing needs, submit...