It’s often the little details that translate to the biggest benefits when it comes to taking care of your diabetes.
That was top of mind for me after trying out the Ascensia Contour Next ONE meter, the latest in the line of Contour meters from the company formerly known as Bayer.
This is a pretty basic but very easy-to-carry meter for those who rely on fingersticks to check their blood sugar levels.
I must say, I’m impressed with Ascensia as of late for what they’ve produced and the innovations in their pipeline that include partnering with digital platforms for better diabetes data-sharing access with family, friends, and medical professionals.
Let’s dig into this particular meter.
Approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in November 2016, the Contour Next ONE sports a sleek modern design with subtle differences from its predecessors, and is the first app-enabled meter Ascensia has offered in its Contour line. It uses the same Contour Next test strips as others in this product line.
Here are some of the main features:
Slim design: While the form factor is mostly unchanged, it’s a bit thinner and sleeker in design than earlier generation models from then-Bayer that had three buttons on the meter face. Now, the Contour Next ONE has scaled down to a single round circle “OK” button with up and down arrows for scrolling through commands.
Easy-to-read display: This meter has a basic black and white LED display with icons to indicate your glucose log or settings. The display does not have a built-in backlight, though you really don’t need it since the screen does light up enough to use efficiently even in the dark.
(Hidden!) port light: Yes, there is a port light you can use to illuminate the spot where the test strip is inserted. But you might not know it at first, if you just looked at the meter or even if you read every single piece of marketing material Ascensia includes — because for some reason, the port light is not described as a feature. Seriously, even reading the manual cover to cover, you’ll never see a mention of the fact that you can actually make the port light work for up to 40 seconds before turning the meter on. For the first few weeks I used this meter, I assumed it had no port light aside from the 2-second flash it gives when the meter is turned on. I actually used my Dexcom receiver to light up the meter so I could insert a strip in a darkened room. Then just by happenstance, I double-tapped the round OK button and discovered this hidden gem! Seriously, Ascensia: This is a huge factor for many PWDs (people with diabetes) who enjoy movie theaters or regularly test in the middle of the night.
Second-chance sampling: This is a small matter, but you have 60 seconds to apply a second drop of blood to the same strip, in case the first attempt wasn’t large enough. Handy for those of us who sometimes struggle to get “bleeders” after a finger poke, and need to take extra time to redo the sample. This can also be very helpful for those trying to conserve test strips and not waste any due to insufficient blood droplets.
SmartLight: This meter embraces the industry trend of attempting to help PWDs answer the key question, “What do my blood glucose numbers actually mean?” Ascensia’s so-called SmartLight lights up in green/ yellow/ red post-result to indicate whether you are “In Range,” “Low,” or “High,” respectively.
Watch battery: The Contour ONE meter uses a round watch battery. I find this to be a downside, as I like the ability to plug-and-charge my meter wherever I may be, with no need to run out and buy these less-common batteries. There is a micro-USB that pairs with the meter, but it’s not for charging. Rather, it’s designed purely to plug into a computer to download data and use the software; unfortunately, you have to buy the cable separately because it’s not included in the box.
Although the minutiae of glucose meter accuracy may no longer be a hot topic these days, it’s still very important. The Contour Next ONE meter is the most accurate product Ascensia has produced to date.
Clinical data shows that this Ascensia Contour Next ONE meter with the Contour Next test strips meets the FDA’s tightened accuracy requirements, and that 95 percent of the time it has the smallest error range within 8.4 mg/dL of reference results, whether the test result is above or below 100 mg/dL.
Remember, Ascensia Diabetes Care has only been around since 2016 and before that it was known as Bayer — that name has been a part of diabetes management tools since it first unveiled the Clinitest for urine glucose testing in the 1940s and ’50s, and one of the first “brick-sized” home glucometers ever made available.
When Bayer became Ascensia Diabetes Care in 2016, they took up the mantle of all that diabetes technology, including the full line of Contour meter models currently available:
Contour Next: This small device is designed with a more traditional glucose meter look, with a vertical orientation and larger block screen. It has three main buttons on the front of the meter that resemble the Simon handheld game, and the test strip goes into the bottom of the meter. As a more basic meter, it stores up to 800 blood sugar results and can generate averages for 7, 14, 30, or 90 days.
Contour Next EZ: An even more basic meter that’s been around since 2012, the EZ version is super easy to use as the name implies.
Contour Next Link 2.4: This is a similar meter with a horizontal design, but specifically manufactured to link to the Medtronic insulin pump.
Fortunately, all of these models use the same Contour Next test strips so you don’t have to worry about finding different types of strips for each meter. You can also use the Ascensia-manufactured Microlet lancing device and universal lancet needles that come with these meters.
You can find these meters in most retail U.S. pharmacies and online shopping sites, and the Ascensia Diabetes Care website has more info on each as well.
With the launch of the Contour Next ONE meter, Ascensia joined the #DData world by offering its Contour mobile app to display data on both iOS and Android smartphones and other devices.
The Next ONE meter has built-in Bluetooth and syncs data with the mobile app, though in my test run I did find that frequently the meter didn’t automatically sync like it’s supposed to, but encountered connectivity issues. I’ve heard this complaint from other users as well, but to be fair, lost connection is also a common problem with products like the Dexcom CGM app.
From a UI perspective, the Contour app is very user-friendly and easy to navigate. It presents you with all the features you’d expect in a diabetes logging app these days: logbook, averages, trend-tracking and meal information, photo uploading and data-sharing.
You can find latest readings on the home screen, with the “My Readings” menu representing the traditional logbook, and a 3-day overview graph always visible when you’re scrolling through the readings. You can easily peruse averages over the past week to 3 months, and by tilting the phone to horizontal orientation, you can also get a standard day’s view or break it down for specific data over 3-30 days, a customized time block, or by meals or time of day. Very nice!
In particular, I like the ability to add photos within the app — whether it’s my morning Greek yogurt with blueberries that rings in at roughly 16g carbs, or a picture of the meter next to my Dexcom G6 CGM.
Using what it calls a “Smart Testing” feature, this meter also allows you to set a customized alert to check your glucose during the day, remind yourself of upcoming doctor visits, or other particulars you might want to be reminded of.
Of course, there is the ability to share diabetes data through the app with your healthcare professional or anyone else you might want to share it with. The app also gives you a prompt during a critical Low to alert an emergency contact, helping to assure that you can get assistance if needed.
The meter itself goes for a suggested retail cost of $19.99, while the strips are currently priced at $41.55 for a 50-count box (roughly 83 cents per strip).
You can purchase the Ascensia Contour Next ONE meter (and other models) in mainstream chains like Costco, CVS, Kroger, Rite Aid, Target, Walgreens, and Walmart, as well as on Amazon.
Overall, the Contour Next ONE is a nice little meter. It displays clean, clear, easy-to-see results in any dark or sunlit setting inside or outside. It is the most full-featured product in the Contour Next glucose meter lineup. The color coding for results is an especially nice way to call your attention to where your blood glucose levels stand.
This meter can be a great choice for those who might want an aesthetic, accurate little meter with some strong data-tracking tools.