Choosing the right blood glucose meter (BGM) is essential to managing your diabetes. It’s important to understand that while your PCP or Endocrinologist is there to help advise you, the decision on which meter is completely based on your personal preference.
It’s vital to understand that you’re the one who has diabetes and it’s ultimately your choice. If your Doctor recommends you change to a new brand, it’s possible the decision is being influenced by changes under ObamaCare. Especially for those on Medicare, CMS prefers to pay for a cheaper meter than one that costs more.
Under the Competitive Bidding Program, patient well-being is being subverted to cut costs. If your Doctor insists you use a certain brand or switch to a new model, you should find out why. If you don’t agree with their decision, there are some hidden rules included in the CBP you can use to protect your patient rights, including the Anti-Switching Rule and the Physician Authorization Process. For more information on these rules, click here.
So how do you decide which meter is right for you? Well, it depends on you and what work best. For someone with Type 1 Diabetes who has to test 10-12 times a day, a meter that’s small and provides quick readings may be the best choice. For someone with poor eyesight, a larger meter may be preferable.
Here are some of the most important factors to consider when you’re deciding which meter is right for you.
In my opinion, this is by far the most important factor to consider. If you’re meter isn’t accurate why bother testing. If anything it’ll give you a false sense of security or create unnecessary alarms.
Under FDA Regulations, manufacturers must meet the following criteria: 95% of all meter test results be within 20% of the actual blood glucose level. For example, if the actual blood sugar level is 100 mg/dl the meter could show anywhere from 80 mg/dl to 100 mg/dl and still be considered accurate. For those who have levels that fall into the hypoglycemic range, an actual level of 60 mg/dl must be between 45 and 75 mg/dl. That’s quite a difference, but for now, these are the standards that manufacturers are held to.
There’s no way around it. While the actual glucose meter may not be very expensive (and in many cases they’re given away for free), it’s the cost of test strips you want to be aware of. A box of 100 test strips can range anywhere from $25 to $200 or more. Having said that, you don’t want to sacrifice quality for cost if you can avoid it.
- DATA STORAGE
Most meters store your blood glucose readings, and some come with software that allow you to recognize certain trends. Some healthcare providers want to go over this data to spot patterns and help improve your overall management of the disease. For example, you may want to know how your glucose level changes based on the time of day. In addition, some meters can download the data through a USB port while other meters can be wirelessly downloaded to your computer or smart phone.
- MARKERS AND FLAGS
The ability to mark or flag certain readings can be very beneficial to managing your diabetes. You can flag when a reading is taken after meals, or set markers for readings that fall above or below certain levels.
- OTHER FEATURES
- Meter Size
- Blood Sample Size
- Testing Time
- Audio Capability
Talk to your healthcare provider about which of these feature is most important to you and remember that choosing a meter is dependent on personal preference!
In the near future we’ll be posting videos showing how to use a blood glucose meter, including additional videos that compare various models. Using this data, we’re hoping to determine several factors, including any significant differences among various brands and the impact of expiration dates.