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Every once in a while, a basic medical product really “steps outside the box” and offers something unique for people with diabetes (PWDs).

That’s the case with the Accu-Chek Guide meter from Roche Diabetes Care. It offers some great practical features to make carrying and using test strips easier. The product also offers improved lighting to use the fingerstick meter in the dark, and an on-board dosing calculator to help you figure out how much insulin you need.

While the unit looks nearly identical to other Accu-Chek meters, the Accu-Chek Guide meter and its innovative features show the company’s willingness to listen to PWDs and get creative.

The Accu-Chek Guide meter launched in 2017 in both the United States and internationally. Since then, Roche Diabetes Care discontinued many of its other models, including the Accu-Chek Aviva meters and test strips that are being phased out completely by 2022. Now, people will need to switch to either the Accu-Chek Guide — or another less-featured version known as the Accu-Chek Guide Me — and use those specific strips, as the Guide has become the company’s preferred brand.

Here are some of the standout features of this Accu-Chek Guide meter. Note that the simpler Accu-Chek Guide Me version has a larger, easy-to-read display but doesn’t have all the same features nor connectivity to the brand’s software platform.

Spill-resistant test strip vial

The company developed an oval shaped via for test strips that’s slimmer than the traditional round design. It lets you easily pop out a single strip at a time without spilling them. Actually, you could tip the entire vial upside-down without any of the strips falling out onto the floor.

Roche Diabetes Care describes the built-in spill-prevention mechanism as a “strip channel,” or a set of grooves where the strips fit into, preventing the easy spills common with test strip containers.

This may seem like a cosmetic change, but it’s pretty huge in that it’s the first time any meter manufacturer has recognized the annoyance of dealing with loose strips tumbling out, and provided a solution for this. This shows that the company has daily practicality and convenience in mind.

Personally, I seriously love this. After years of struggling not to spill or lose expensive test strips, I found I could shake this vial repeatedly, and only a single strip would come out at a time. Magic!

In-the-dark friendly

Unlike most of the products on the market, Accu-Chek Guide offers a feature that automatically lights up the test strip port when you insert a strip. Or you can just hit the OK/On button to activate the light, and it stays on until you insert the strip and apply the blood sample. Accu-Chek Guide also has a traditional bright backlight for the screen.

I think this is a wonderful feature for anyone needs to test inside a dark bedroom, or in a place where the light is low.

Battery life

Also, the Accu-Chek Guide meter is designed so that Bluetooth and the port light won’t drain the battery life. This meter will allow for up to 2,000 tests with an unpaired meter to a smart phone, or as a general rule, the battery life will last for about 750 tests.

I did many blood sugar checks at night in my darkened bedroom. I found the nice little port light definitely bright enough to help me test without a struggle.

Bigger blood drop area

There’s a larger area for your drop of blood to go on the strip — 2 to 4 times larger than the other brand name strips, according to the company. Also, each Accu-Chek Guide strip has a broad bright yellow edge where you can deposit your blood.

The strips also show blood drop icons to direct people where to apply their blood. This is very helpful, given that some test strips have varying designs with the blood going directly on the top while others collect samples on the edge.

Strip ejector

Just push a button on the side of the meter and the test strip automatically pops out of the slot. This is important because it helps dispose of used strips more easily. This lowers the chance of blood rubbing off when manually removing the strips from the meter. So, as soon as you’re finished checking your blood sugar, you can eject the strip directly into a trash basket.

Better accuracy

Of course, it’s not all about just making strips easier to carry and use. Roche Diabetes Care states that the Accu-Chek Guide meter and strips are more accurate than any of their previous Accu-Chek products.

According to the FDA, clinical results submitted to regulators show that with the lowest glucose readings below 75 mg/dL, Accu-Chek Guide hits an accuracy of 100 percent. The results are within the +/-10 percent accuracy standard, and two-thirds are within roughly 5 mg/dL points.

On everything above that low threshold, results are all within the 20 percent accuracy standard and 95 percent of them are even within the tighter approximately 10 percent accuracy standard.

According to research by the Diabetes Technology Society, Accu-Chek meters are among the highest compliance with accuracy standards, ranging from 95 to 98 percent depending on the model.

Glucose patterns, insulin dosing calculator

The Accu-Chek Guide offers on-board pattern detection that helps people better recognize high and low blood sugar trends. This information is shown on both the meter and in the mobile app as the percentage of low and high levels in the morning, midday, evening, and overnight.

It also provides an insulin dosing calculator within the app, allowing you to determine how much insulin you might need based on the current reading and carb count information that you enter in.

Having this “bolus wizard” (insulin calculator) feature built right into the mobile app-connected meter may be an excellent addition for anyone not using an insulin pump.

A 2012 research review showed that glucose meters with an insulin calculator built in have a significant benefit for PWDs. The participants made fewer insulin calculation errors, and experienced less hypoglycemia (dangerous low blood sugar).

This is the second Low Energy Bluetooth meter from Roche Diabetes Care. The Accu-Chek Aviva Connect meter launched in 2015, but has been discontinued. You can pair the Accu-Chek Guide meter with the Accu-Chek Connect mobile app. The pairing allows you to have your glucose readings automatically sent to a smart phone.

It’s important to know that the Accu-Chek Guide only communicates with its own mobile app, Roche Diabetes Care’s mySugr app, and the company’s Accu-Chek 360˚ Diabetes management software.

It doesn’t allow for connectivity to other third-party digital platforms, nor does it specifically talk with CGM systems or insulin pumps currently available. (The simpler Accu-Chek Guide Me version also does not connect with the company’s Accu-Chek 360˚ Diabetes management software.)

You can find the Accu-Chek Guide and the Accu-Chek Guide Me products on the company’s Accu-Chek site, usually for about $30. As with all meters, however, that’s only the one-time cost for the unit itself. You have to continually purchase the test strips.

Accu-Chek Guide test strips come in packs of 25, 50, and 100. The strips are also sold in most United States pharmacies, such as Costco, CVS, Rite Aid, and Walgreens.

The cost typically ranges from $16 for the 25-count, $25 to $30 for the 50-count, and more than $50 for a larger 100-count vial. This means the strips cost roughly .58 cents per piece, which puts Accu-Chek on the slightly higher end among competitors.

Make sure to check with your health insurance plan about any coverage details for the Accu-Chek Guide meters and test strips. Your insurance plan may sometimes offer savings compared to buying these products directly or over the counter at retail prices.

The Accu-Chek Guide is a practical and easy-to-use fingerstick meter option from a well-known, trusted brand. It offers important features to help improve the experience of checking one’s blood sugar and carrying around the test strips and supplies. These features consider the real-world experiences that PWDs deal with when managing diabetes.

Even in an age where fingerstick meters are sometimes viewed as diabetes technology of the past, the Accu-Chek Guide product stands out over competitors due to these design improvements.

Mike Hoskins is managing editor of DiabetesMine. He was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at age 5 in 1984, and his mom was also diagnosed with T1D at the same young age. He wrote for various daily, weekly, and specialty publications before joining DiabetesMine. He lives in Southeast Michigan with his wife, Suzi.