Talking Meter for the Visually Impaired

David Mendosa Health Guide April 12, 2008
  • If you can see this article, you personally don't need the new meter I'm writing about here. But you may well have a family member or a friend with diabetes who doesn't see very well, if at all.

    This Prodigy Voice meter is for them. Marketing in the U.S. by Diagnostic Devices Inc. in Charlotte, North Carolina, this meter improves on the company's Prodigy AutoCode meter, which I discussed here earlier. These are -- or soon will be -- the only meters available in the U.S. for the sight-impaired.

    Roche Diagnostics has stopped making and selling its Accu-Chek Voicemate. In fact, representatives of the company have asked me who they should refer their blind customers to. I suggested that they contact Diagnostics Devices.

     

    More than two years ago I reviewed a Hungarian-made talking meter, the SensoCard Plus, for Diabetes Health magazine. But the U.S. Food and Drug Administration never approved it.

    The only other meter that sight-impaired Americans can get may still be available as the Advocate meter. However, Diagnostic Devices is suing the distributors of that meter -- Pharma Supply Inc., Diabetic Support Program, and Diabetic Supply of Suncoast.

    "DDI is seeking an immediate injunction from the above parties to prevent them from marketing, selling, and distributing the Advocate brand blood glucose meter," according to a press release that DDI Vice President Jerry Munden sent me. "The injunction is being sought to protect DDI’s intellectual property and trademark rights as well as to protect DDI from unfair competition and tortious interference with its relationships with customers."


    DDI claims to have exclusive U.S. rights to sell these talking meters that TaiDoc Technology in Taiwan makes. The Prodigy Voice is the same as the Clever Chek TD-4232. The Prodigy AutoCode is the same as the Clever Chek TD-2447A; the Advocate is an earlier version that requires coding.


    The FDA approved DDI's marketing of the Prodigy Voice in the U.S. last month. No wonder. This meter is easy to use whether or not you can see it. Even though my sight is good enough as long as I wear my bifocals, I enjoy checking my blood pressure with another DDI device that talks to me, the Prodigy Duo.


    The Prodigy Voice takes a small blood sample, just 0.6 microliters, and returns the test result in just 6 seconds. You don't have to code the meter to match the number on the vial of test strips.


    Easier to use than the Prodigy AutoCode, the Prodigy Voice has audible instructions and a repeat button so the completely blind can test their blood glucose with it. The instruction manual for the meter is available on an audio CD, in Braille, and on the company's website.


    Diabetes Action Network of the National Federation of the Blind bestowed its "A+ Access Award" on the Prodigy Voice. This was the first product to win that award.

    If your vision is worse than 20/200 corrected, Medicare will cover the cost of the Prodigy Voice meter and test strips, according to Tim Cady, the president of Advanced Diabetes Supply, a division of North Coast Medical Supply in San Diego. This national mail order diabetes company specializes in helping people who have Medicare insurance get their testing and insulin pump supplies.


  • Tim says that if the customer pays cash, the price for the meter is $99. And 50 test strips go for $38.50. But, "Advanced Diabetes Supply will guide the patient for getting proper insurance coverage," he says. Tim even sent me the verbiage that you might need to qualify for a talking meter through Medicare or many other insurance providers. An ophthalmologist needs to sign this form:


    STATEMENT OF LEGAL BLINDNESS

    Patient Name_______________________________________________________

    This patient has been treated at____________________________with a diagnosis of________________________________________. He/She has been declared legally blind because best corrected vision in each eye is less than 20/200 or severe constriction of the visual field to less than 10 degrees centrally.

    There is no improvement in vision anticipated.