At least 38 companies now offer us meters that we can use to test our blood. I list and link them in my web page "Blood Glucose Meters," Part 14 of the On-line Diabetes Resources.
Almost all of those 38 companies sell their meters in the U.S., and most of them have several different meters for sale here. So why would we ever need a new one?
For one thing, meters are getting better. While they still aren’t good enough, higher standards of accuracy and precision may be coming soon, as I wrote here a year ago.
Instead, meter manufacturers focus on adding features. Many of these features are just nice bells and whistles. But one feature is essential for some of us.
Since loss of vision is all too common a complication of diabetes, many of us need a blood glucose meter that will talk to us. Not only people who are totally blind but the much larger number of us who have limited vision need a meter that they can listen to rather than look at.
Actually, we have had talking meters for many years. Diagnostic Devices in Charlotte, North Carolina, has offered two different Prodigy meters for at least five years, as I indicate on my "Blood Glucose Meters" web page. Diabetic Supply of Suncoast in Vega Baja, Puerto Rico, offers two different versions of the Advocate blood glucose meters that talk. Last year Omnis Health in Natick, Massachusetts, became the third company to currently offer a talking meter, the Embrace Blood Glucose Monitoring System.
And now here is BioSense Medical Devices in Duluth, Georgia, with another talking meter, the Solo V2. We all the choices already available, does anyone need the new meter?
The Solo V2 Talking Meter
I think so. It has several advantages over the meters that we already had.
BioSense took nearly two years to design and manufacture the meter, according to Chris Gwaltney, the company’s vice president. Chris sent me the meter package and product information. BioSense contracted with Biotest Medical Corporation of Taichung, Taiwan, to manufacture the Solo V2, and the U.S. Food and Drug administration approved it in March.
For starters, the meter will speak to you in either English or Spanish. It will audibly walk you through set up, testing, and recall of the memory and averages. It will audibly explain all error messages, including a warning of insufficient blood, which will prevent false low test results.
"The Solo V2 and the Prodigy Voice are the only two fully audible blood glucose meters that offer accessibility to the visually impaired and blind communities," Chris says. "There are other talking meters that only have audible output during the testing process. Those meters offer the talking component more as a gimmick than as a clinical benefit. To my knowledge, the Solo V2 is the only talking meter, fully audible or otherwise, that has the strip technology to prevent false low results as a result of not having enough blood on the test strip. Preventing false low results is one of the key differentiating factors of the Solo V2 from a clinical standpoint."
At the same time, for people with some vision the Solo V2’s display is larger than that of any other meter. It returns a result in six second with only a tiny sample of 0.7 ml.
I particularly like the large display. I also like the before and after meal indicator a lot. It shows averages for up to 90 days and has a testing reminder alarm.
Another innovation that pleases me is the hard case that is just big enough to hold the meter, a vial of test strips, a small lancing device, and lancets. I don’t remember ever seeing a hard case for a blood glucose meter before.
The Solo V2 doesn’t require you to enter a code. This makes testing easier and more accurate.
I had incorrectly assumed that V2 in the name Solo V2 stood for version 2. But Chris tells me that this is the company’s first blood glucose meter and V2 stands for vision and voice.
BioSense currently sells the Solo V2 primarily through home medical supply companies and online retailers. "We are working to make the Solo V2 available through chain pharmacies such as CVS, Walgreens, and Rite Aid. to better service the increasing demand for our product," Chris tells me.
The manufacturer’s suggested retail price for the meter is $29.99. A box of 50 test strips goes for $19.99. This sounds to me like a good deal for those of us who have limited or no vision.
David Mendosa is a journalist who learned in 1994 that he has type 2 diabetes, which he now writes about exclusively. He has written thousands of diabetes articles, two books about it, created one of the first diabetes websites, and publishes the monthly newsletter, “Diabetes Update.” His very low-carbohydrate diet, current A1C level of 5.3, and BMI of 19.8 keep his diabetes in remission without any drugs. He can be found on Twitter @davidmendosa and on Facebook at David Mendosa.