LifeScan has just released a new blood glucose meter that finally got it right. This meter, called the OneTouch Ultra2 Blood Glucose Monitoring System, solves one of the biggest meter problems that I have been harping on for years.
When I participated in another company's Data Management Panel in Montreal about four years ago, I stressed the importance of being able to separate out before meal and after meal readings so that we can make sense of our trends. Several other participants echoed my views. But that company, like all the others except LifeScan, still doesn't have it right.
LifeScan's new meter lets us flag and identify a specific blood glucose result as coming from a "before-meal" or "after-meal" test. Another feature lets us tag specific results with preset comments that can provide later insight, such as what may have caused an after-meal blood glucose result to be too high.
An earlier LifeScan meter, the One Touch UltraSmart, includes similar features in its repertoire. But the UltraSmart is just too complicated - too smart - for people who don't need to track and adjust insulin use.
Tracking, of course, is the key feature of continuous sensors, which are finally reaching maturity. But the Ultra2 is the first episodic meter that makes tracking easy.
If you plan on using data management software with your meter, the data cable has to connect to your computer. Many computers nowadays have USB ports rather the Com ports. This problem too is one that LifeScan has addressed with a cable that will connect to either type of port.
Still, however, LifeScan "has no current plans" for its software to run on a Mac, Jeff Christensen, LifeScan's communication manager, tells me.
The Ultra2 uses OneTouch Ultra Test Strips. LifeScan wrote in a fact sheet for reporters that they "are covered by more private health plans at the lowest co-pay than any other brand of test strip." You can also test in the dark with this meter because of its backlight.
The Ultra2's basic stats are among the best. It needs only a 1 microliter drop of blood and returns a result in 5 seconds. You can use it to test on alternative sites like your forearm or palm.
Like all blood glucose meters, the Ultra2 comes with a little black carrying case. The carrying case, in fact, was the biggest complaint of a correspondent who bought one of the first Ultra2s. Since it is black, she wrote that it is hard to find in her purse. "I might have to get some duct tape and decorate my case," she told me.
You can get the Ultra2 meter for almost nothing. It retails for $65 to $70. But LifeScan offers a manufacturer's rebate not exceeding the purchase price up to $70. So if you can buy it without sales tax or shipping charges, it's free.
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