A few days ago an Accu-Chek Aviva blood glucose meter arrived in my mail. The meter itself was nothing new. Three years ago when Roche Diabetes Care introduced the Aviva I wrote a glowing review of it, appropriately titled "Viva Aviva!"
What is new is the smallest item in all those papers that accompany a new meter nowadays. It's a wallet-sized card that Roche calls the Accu-Chek Connect.
This is one powerful little card! For some people it means that we don't have to pay more than $15 for each prescription we get for Accu-Chek Aviva test strips.
The Front of the Discount Card
The Back of that Card
This card will work now for those of us who have third-part insurance. Roche tells me that they are "actively working on options for the uninsured."
The card says that it isn't valid for people "reimbursed under Medicare, Medicaid, or other government healthcare programs." Those programs reduce the cost of test strips anyway.
Right now the cards don't come with the other blood glucose meter that Roche sells in the U.S., the Accu-Chek Compact. But the card does say that it provides the same coverage for the Accu-Chek Compact as that of the Accu-Chek Aviva.
"We are in the process of adding the cards along with all the other Accu-Chek Connect tools into the Compact Plus Care Kits," Bill McKee, Roche Diabetes Care's manager for strategic initiatives, wrote me.
But if customers already have an Accu-Chek Aviva or Compact meter, how can they get the discount? "Accu-Chek Customer Care does have a supply of the cards to send to existing customers," Mr. McKee wrote. "If somebody calls 800-858-8072 and mentions the prescription discount card, the rep will be able to send the caller out a card."
Spokespeople for Roche tell me that those of us who participated in its "Social Media Summit" last July contributed to improving the roll-out of the new prescription discount card. In December Roche followed up with us, and as a part of that follow-up presented us with this chart compared what the three other major meter manufacturers were providing:
You can see that the three other market leaders have introduced similar programs. But this is the first that I ever heard about them, and to me the Roche programs looks more generous.
Also, Roche's new Accu-Chek Connect program isn't just about saving us money. It includes quite a few useful tools to help us control our blood glucose better.
One of my favorite tool is what Roche calls "Testing in Pairs." I learned about this Roche initiative for the first time at the Social Media Summit in July when I read about it in Roche's magazine Completing the Circle of Care. This simple -- but under-utilized -- idea uses a before-and-after approach to give us a much clearer picture of our diabetes control, helping us to identify the changes that we need to make. The idea is simply to test before and after eating, before and after exercise, and before and after reducing stress, like with meditation.
I like this idea so much that I raised it at a recent meeting of the local diabetes support group that meets at my apartment. We are a group of men in Boulder who are committed to controlling their diabetes. We all like this approach -- and several of us already followed it.
Certainly using this tool will mean more sales of test strips. But now we have a way of reducing the cost of those strips to the reasonable level that so many of us have wanted for years.