How to Choose the Best Blood Glucose Meter for Your Needs
Important factors to consider when choosing a glucose meter for your personal diabetes plan.
If you’re one of the many people living with diabetes whose doctor wants you to measure your blood glucose levels at home, choosing a glucose meter that fits your individual health and lifestyle needs is a big decision.
Why does your diabetes plan call for ongoing glucose monitoring?
Measuring blood sugar at home supports your overall diabetes treatment plan by providing your doctor with a track record of how your blood sugar level reacts and changes in between clinical visits. For instance, does your blood glucose level spike during specific dayparts, such as dinnertime or right after breakfast. Are you experiencing bouts of hypoglycemia, which may indicate the need to reduce insulin dosage? Are you having difficulty reaching and maintaining your target blood sugar level?
For many diabetics, using a glucose meter to measure blood sugar levels at home is the only way for doctors to obtain a current and accurate assessment of insulin needs. Think of ongoing blood sugar monitoring as a window into how well your current diabetes treatment plan is working and what adjustments, if any, need to be made. Diabetes treatment tends to evolve over time. Using a glucose meter at home is an easy and effective way for you and your doctors to stay on top of your personal diabetes treatment plan.
Choosing a Blood Glucose Meter
Deciding which glucose meter works best for you can be difficult, if not, downright confusing. There are so many different blood glucose meters on the market today from leading brands, such as Accu-Chek, TRUE METRIX, FreeStyle and OneTouch. Finding the right one means understanding the pros and cons of different glucose meters and determining how well each one aligns with your diabetes treatment plan, including testing frequency, budgetary concerns, insurance coverage, accuracy, ease of use, and more.
In this post, we will hit on nine key considerations when deciding on a blood glucose meter. Along with your physician’s diabetes care recommendations, remembering these factors can help you find the glucose meter that works best for you.
Does your doctor or nurse recommend a specific meter or type of meter?
We certainly hope you trust the advice of the professionals on your diabetes care team. They know your individual diabetes treatment plan as well as anyone. They also have experience with just about every brand and type of glucose meter out there. Go ahead and ask your doctors and nurses what they think. They’ll surely be able to make a few good recommendations on glucose meters that fit your care needs.
How Much Can You Spend on the Meter and Test Strips?
Glucose meters come in a wide range of prices. Be warned that a lot of insurance companies (details to follow) will not cover the entire cost of more expensive models. In other words, you just might end up paying the difference. Also remember, it’s not just the cost of the glucose meter you need to factor in, but also the cost of all the diabetic test strips you’ll be going through. For great prices and a great selection of test strips, explore online diabetic supply companies, such as diabeticwarehouse.org.
How Much Will Insurance Cover?
Depending on your insurance provider, you may enjoy better pricing or more complete coverage by selecting from a pre-approved list of glucose meters. Once again, online diabetes healthcare product companies, such as Diabetic Warehouse offer blood glucose meters and test strips from most of the top manufacturers, making it easy to find devices and products that comply with your insurance requirements.
What Blood Sample Size Are You Comfortable With?
Most glucose meters today are extremely accurate and pretty darn simple to use during a blood sugar level test. That being said, there are some differences worth noting. One of these is the volume of blood required in order to obtain an accurate blood sugar level measurement. Some of the newer and more advanced models require as little as 0.3 microliters of blood. A good rule for standard models is about 1.0 microliters. Some glucose meters, however, require substantially more blood to obtain reliable results. It is a good idea to consult with your doctor about these variances and what you are most comfortable with for your testing protocol.
Size, shape, features and digital display of your glucose meter.
The best kind of glucose meter is one that is both accurate and makes life a little easier for you. In other words, get one that works with your daily lifestyle. For instance, if you plan on carrying your meter around in your pocket, it makes sense to choose a smaller meter. If you have difficulty reading small type, a glucose meter with an oversized and illuminated digital display makes sense. Some glucose meters even feature audio cues to help those who are visually impaired. Others come in funky colors so that kids and teens are more apt to comply with their blood sugar level testing schedules. The bottom line is there are a lot of different glucose meter configurations to choose from, so go for one that has the features you need to make blood sugar level testing as easy and effective as possible.
Logging your blood sugar readings
The primary purpose of taking blood sugar readings at home is to give your diabetes care team a complete picture of your insulin dosage and treatment effectiveness. Most of today’s devices are capable of digitally recording and logging a large number of blood sugar level readings, so you have a comprehensive record that can be accessed anytime. Some glucose meters are also able to sync with your computer, so you can share results with your doctors via email. Better yet, there are glucose meter kits that will share results with your care team in real-time via a simple app downloaded to a smartphone or tablet.
Yes, there are still basic glucose meters that do not log and record each reading. However, that means you will have to maintain a hand-written diary, which takes added time out of your day. More importantly, your doctor and diabetes care team will not be able to access those readings remotely. That is a big disadvantage in our book. We recommend choosing one of the many glucose meters that store your readings digitally. What capacity of memory you will need depends on how many times a day you’ll be testing blood sugar levels. Some units store 100 tests, while others can store thousands.
Where will you be drawing blood?
Most people simply do a standard prick of the finger and apply the blood to a diabetic test strips approved for their glucose meter. However, some people prefer to take blood from other areas of the body, including the palm, upper arm, thigh, and calf. Alternate site testing does present some concerns and few glucose meters are equipped to take testing from sites other than the fingertip. This is not a consideration most diabetics will face, but if you do draw blood from areas other than the fingertip be sure your glucose meter is capable of providing an accurate blood sugar level reading.
Free meter programs from many top manufacturers
Here is a great way to save money by getting a brand-new glucose meter absolutely free. Many leading manufacturers, such as Ascensia's Contour Next and Accu-Chek, will give you a free glucose meter when you commit to purchasing a certain number of compatible diabetes test strips. The bottom line is they want your business and they know you’re going to have to purchase test strips well into the future. By giving away a free glucose monitoring device, the company ensures your continued business through the required diabetic test strips. It’s a win for them in ongoing sales and a win for you in immediate savings.
CGM Devices vs SMBG Devices
CGM stands for Continuous Glucose Monitoring, while SMBG stands for Self-Monitoring Blood Glucose. The tips in this post revolve around SMBG devices, including brands like Accu-Chek, True Metrix, Freestyle, Bayer, and OneTouch, as these are most commonly used by people living with diabetes. However, a CGM device is worth considering for many diabetics who have difficulty administering their own blood sugar level tests. These glucose meters attach directly to the skin, usually on the arm or stomach, and automatically take blood sugar levels at prescribed intervals and sync them to a smartphone or mobile device. One of the most popular brands in today's market is the DexCom G6 CGM System. Your doctor can tell you more about CGM devices, how to use them, and whether they are appropriate for your diabetes treatment plan. There is one caveat cost-wise with CGM devices. They are newer to the market and, therefore, tend to be covered by fewer insurance companies.
There are more options than you will likely ever be able to explore when it comes to choosing a glucose meter and diabetic test strips. On the plus side, most of the devices on the market today are extremely user friendly and provide you and your diabetes care team with an accurate and ongoing way to monitor your blood sugar levels in between physician appointments.
As you can imagine, diabetes remote testing has been particularly advantageous during the COVID-19 pandemic. It has allowed diabetes patients and their doctors to continue seamlessly measuring, adapting, and adjusting care without missing a beat.
This is further proof that choosing the right glucose meter is an important part of building a solid diabetes treatment plan. To explore many of today’s finest device options, check out the complete selection of glucose meters and diabetic test strips at diabeticwarehouse.org.
Diabetic Warehouse is a trusted supplier of diabetes care products and accessories. For more information and to explore a complete range of products, including test strips, syringes and needles, glucose monitoring systems, and more, visit www.diabeticwarehouse.org.