Thursday, March 15, 2007

A New Meter Review

Well, I did it. I not only flirted with a meter other than my One Touch Ultra by Lifescan, I'm having a full-fledged affair. I bought myself a box of 100 strips and a meter from my local Kroger. The meter itself was only $10, and a box of 100 strips cost $44, which is the same price I pay for 50 strips for the One Touch.

I'll start out by saying I really love this new meter. There are a few differences, but mostly, I prefer it to the One Touch.

I suppose you'll want to know why. Okay, okay. I'll tell you.

  1. The Kroger meter strips are cheaper. But you already knew that one.
  2. The Kroger meter is smaller. Not a great deal smaller, but definitely smaller. Not only that, but when I have all the strips, the meter, extra lancets, and the "poker" in the case it comes with, it is still smaller.
  3. The carrying case is just plain cooler than the one that came with my One Touch Ultra.
  4. The poker that came with the meter is far more comfortable. In fact, with the exception of one time thus far, after I poke my finger, I wondered if it had done anything at all. I honestly didn't feel a thing. But, I managed to milk blood from my finger just fine, so apparently it worked. There are five adjustable settings for depth, and I used the middle one, same as the one that came with my One Touch Ultra.
  5. There is a built-in backlight.
  6. While both the One Touch and Kroger meters have a 5-second test, the Kroger meter will not start counting down until you have enough blood. The One Touch Ultra starts to count down almost immediately, and occasionally you don't have enough blood in time, resulting in the waste of a perfectly good test strip. Not an issue on the Kroger meter.
  7. The Kroger meter has similar features as the One Touch Ultra, including auto-on by sticking in the test strip, displaying averages for 7 days and 14 days, etc. But one thing the Kroger does that the One Touch doesn't is it has an audible feedback feature (which can be turned off). Basically, it beeps when it turns on, when there is enough blood, and when the test is finished.
  8. As I mentioned, the Kroger meter is smaller.
So, all in all, a very nice meter. And at $10, I can actually buy several and keep one at work, one in my car, one at home, etc, if I want.

Now, despite all the positives, there are a few things that I either don't like or I'm just not used to yet:
  1. The strips come individually packages in foil wrappers rather than a vial. In a way, this isn't a problem. In fact, I can fit a lot more strips in my case in less space as a result. But it means not only tearing open the foil wrapper, but having the extra garbage to deal with. Not a huge issue, but different. The wrappers are actually extremely easy to open, so it isn't a big deal.
  2. The test strip goes in the bottom of the meter rather than the top. My One Touch Ultra, the strip goes in the top. Being on the bottom makes it slightly more awkward to apply the blood sample if I'm using the bottom side of my finger. Having the strip on top makes it easier, no matter where on my finger I poke. Again, this is more of an adjustment on my part than anything.
  3. The blood sample size on the Kroger meter is very slightly larger than on the One Touch. Truly, it isn't enough to make a difference to me, but I mention it because some people might have trouble getting that extra .1 microliter of blood (or whatever it is). For me, it is no worse, and actually the difference is moot since the meter won't start counting down until I have enough blood anyhow, so I have more time to squeeze out more blood.
  4. Calibrating the meter isn't a matter of just scrolling through some numbers. Instead, they have this calibration stick. You place it in the meter when you open a new box of strips, and it codes the meter for you. In a way, this is easier. However, it means you have to keep the calibration stick around. Even that isn't so much of an issue, however, since they provide a little place to keep it in the carrying case.
And there you have it. Honestly, I'm not sorry to make the switch. I almost wish I would have done it a long time ago. I'm not sure how the Kroger version compares to other generic versions, such as Meijer's or Wal-Mart's, etc. But I'm here to say, if you are paying for strips yourself, or with a significant copay...or if you just want to save the insurance company money (which is worthwhile, since it ultimately helps lower health-care costs for everyone), then I highly recommend the Kroger brand BGL meter.


Keith said...

I believe your meter is very, very similar to my Wal-Mart meter. The strips are individually wrapped, but I have yet to check out the backlight and my case is on the flimsey side. Still, it sure cuts the cost of testing.

Bernard said...

So these are all made by the same company, I assume.

Can you download the readings from the meter? Because that, to me, is the biggest advantage of my One Touch.

Actually maybe it's the only advantage.

Bernard said...

I finally remembered the name of the company that (I think) might make your product.

Is it Home Diagnostics? They just recently announced a new meter that is aimed at Medicare and Medicaid patients.

I don't much about this company, but you have to admire an organization that seems to be developing new meters aimed at specific groups.

And I'm all for lowering the cost of testing. I think the bigger companies have had it too good for too long, at our expense.

Minnesota Nice said...

Home Diagnostics makes the True Track, which is available at Walgreens (I have one).
Thanks, Ryan. That was a very informative post. I don't think we have any Krogers in the Twin Cities - phooey.

RyanBruner said...

The distributer listed on the test strips and Kroger meter is "Solartek, Inc." The meter doesn't look anything like the one shown on the Home Diagnostics site, so I don't think they are the same.

A little research indicates Solartek is affiliated with Abbott Laboratories, it seems.


a said...

The company that actually makes the kroger and walmart meters is abbott. Had a problem with three readings in a row all taken in less that 1 1/2 minutes in the relion. first 174, then 210, then 147. had defective meter and wlamart said to call comapany as they would not be able to handle in store. now have three of the meters and get 10-20 point spread on them. Arnie

Anonymous said...

I bought my Kroger/SolarTek meter a year ago & I'm having trouble finding strips now that my stock's run out. My local Kroger, where I bought it, no longer carries them. Is anyone else having this issue? I called SolarTek/Abbott, and they said if I can't find them at Kroger, that the Wal-Mart ReliOn meter is very similar (not the same test strips though).

RyanBruner said...

I'm afraid I ran into a similar problem. I don't think Kroger got enough business, and appears to have all but dropped support for their meter. So, I'm back with my trusty One Touch Ultra.