In the last few years, we've seen a few sleeker-looking glucose meters make it to market, along with more logging tools and apps than we can shake a stick at. But what's still been lacking is some good assistance in taking all those numbers and actually knowing what to do with them — what changes do they call for in our diabetes management?
Unless you're telephoning your CDE or endo every time you spot some wacky results (and that's only if you're logging diligently and can spot the trends) you're pretty much on your own trying to identify and fix the problems that naturally crop up from time to time.
That's why we were enthusiastic to hear about Lifescan's new meter, the VerioIQ, "the first meter ever that automatically alerts you to patterns you might not even know where there." It appears to be the first of many new "smart glucose meters" in the works that aims to alert patients when they're trending high or low. As you may have guessed, this meter isn't yet available in the U.S. (of course...), but was just released on the market for its world premiere in Canada.
You can take a little "tour" of the meter, and learn about the OneTouch Verio Gold test strips it uses on the company's Canadian website. The key new feature, called PatternAlert, analyzes blood sugar readings within the meter's memory, and alerts you when it notices a recurring pattern.
The press release announcing VerioIQ claims that the meter even takes the next step, actually providing "guidance on what actions can be taken to enhance glucose control" through something called the "Test Smart Pattern Guide, a quick reference tool to help people living with diabetes interpret and resolve high and low patterns" — although whether this was a built-in feature was not clear.
We spoke with Lindsay Kalaw, Brand Marketing Director of Lifescan Canada, yesterday to get some details. Turns out the Pattern Guide is a paper booklet that VerioIQ customers can request by calling the company's 800-number. You look up your "pattern" by category (high trend/low trend and time of day), and then choose from pull-out tabs that suggest possible reasons for your troubles (low before breakfast? probably too much insulin before bed), and some actions to remedy the situation (reduce evening/overnight insulin dosing). A paper-based guide is not particularly high-tech, but it still offers more help interpreting your numbers than any other meter has done to date.
The problem is that this Guide does not ship with the product directly, and apparently it's not obvious that you need to place a special phone order to get it.
This became clear to us when we reached out to Pearlsa, a type 1 PWD living in Vancouver, British Columbia, to get some real-life feedback on using this thing. On the positive side, Pearlsa says that just a week into using her new meter, it has already helped her identify trends.
"It alerted me to my evening blood sugars always being above my target range," Pearlsa says. "This prompted me to take a closer look and I noticed that the raise in my blood sugar happens when I disconnect at night to take my long hot showers (which I refuse to give up to diabetes). I guess what makes this important is that in the past, I would have tweaked my evening basal or insulin-to-carb ratio. However, seeing this distinct pattern I now just replace the missed insulin (as a correction bolus), something I never did in my almost 6 years of pumping."
However, Pearlsa seemed disappointed when looking to the Verio product for guidance on actions to take. "There are no instructions that I have seen. It just says, 'looks like your glucose has been running HIGH around this time.'"
Also, as an Animas Ping pumper, Pearlsa is disappointed about the lack of product integration. "The fact that (the VerioIQ) does not transmit its results to my pump is a minus. It uses a different test strip, too. I loved that all my OneTouch meters use the same strip. With this, I have to buy two kinds of strips or forgo the Ping's meter and just use this one."
Medtronic Minimed's insulin pump also wirelessly communicates with a OneTouch UltraLink meter, but not the new VerioIQ either, so people using these integrated systems would have to give up the wireless connection advantage if they opt for the new smart meter.
Also, as much as we'd love to have a meter that helps lift some of the heavy mental burden of diabetes, we wonder about the likelihood of FDA approving this kind of "therapeutic decision-support" function any time soon. The fear is that the algorithms may lead patients astray.
The VerioIQ also offers a couple of other interesting features, including a rechargeable battery that lasts up to 2 weeks and can be juiced up by plugging in the AC adaptor or a mini USB cable (both are included — yay for not having to search for those camera batteries!); a test strip slot that automatically lights up for easy viewing in the dark; a larger screen with a scrollable menu; and it comes with the tiny OneTouch Delica lancing device, which I personally highly recommend (Team Delica!).
The Verio Gold test strips feature a side-fill design similar to FreeStyle test strips that lets you add blood to a tab on either side of the strip. They're supposed to be ultra-accurate because they analyze each blood sample 500 times to account for common inaccuracies (interferences such as acetaminophen and Vitamin C). Pearlsa did her own comparison, and found the VerioIQ to be slightly more accurate than the Ping meter.
Pricing in Canadian dollars is set at $44.99 suggested retail for the meter, and $79.99 for a box of 100 Verio Gold strips, same as the MSRP for their current OneTouch Ultra Blue test strips, Lindsay tells me. We're still waiting to hear when this product might come under review by the FDA.
Have any of our Canadian readers had a chance to check out the VerioIQ? We'd love to hear your thoughts! Are you finding the PatternAlert really helpful? Or are you still at a loss as to what to do with all that data?