Every once in a while, a basic medical product really “steps outside the box” and offers something unique for people with diabetes.
That’s the case with the Accu-Chek Guide glucose 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 onboard 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 and its innovative features show the company’s willingness to listen and get creative.
Accu-Chek products are made by Roche Diabetes Care based in Indianapolis, Indiana. It’s a long established brand in the diabetes space, with Accu-Chek products dating back to the earliest blood sugar meters in the 1980s. They also make the Accu-Chek Spirit insulin pumps.
One of the newest fingerstick meters in this company’s line of products is the Accu-Chek Guide meter, launched in 2017 in the United States and internationally.
Since then, Roche has discontinued many other models, including the Accu-Chek Aviva meters and test strips that are being phased out completely by the end of 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.
- uses Bluetooth wireless technology to connect a mobile app and the Accu-Chek digital platform
- includes a calculator for determining insulin doses
- solid accuracy and long battery life
- large, easy-to-use blood drop area on the test strip
- has a backlight and a test strip port light, making it easy to use at night or in dark places
- test strips come in a spill-resistant container, which is more convenient and less messy than traditional test strip vials
- includes an automatic strip ejector for easy disposal of used strips
- doesn’t connect to share data with other diabetes devices like continuous glucose monitors (CGMs) or insulin pumps
- not compatible with third-party digital platforms for diabetes data review
- pricing can be a barrier
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.
The Accu-Chek Guide product specs:
- Dimensions: 3.2 x 1.9 x 0.8 inches
- Weight: 49 grams (with batteries)
Spill-resistant test strip vial
The company developed an oval-shaped vial for test strips, which is slimmer than the traditional round design. It lets you easily pop out a single strip at a time without spilling them. You can tip the entire vial upside down without any of the strips falling out onto the floor.
Roche Diabetes Care describes the 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. This shows that the company has daily practicality and convenience in mind.
After years of struggling not to spill or lose expensive test strips, I could shake this vial repeatedly, and only a single strip would come out at a time. Magic!
Friendly in the dark
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.
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.
This is a wonderful feature for anyone who needs to test inside a dark bedroom or in a place where the light is low. The nice little port light is bright enough to help test without fumbling.
The Accu-Chek Guide meter uses two 3-volt coin-cell batteries (CR2032). It’s also designed so Bluetooth and the port light won’t drain the battery life. This meter will allow up to 2,000 tests with an unpaired meter to a smartphone, or as a general rule, the battery life will last for about 750 tests.
Bigger blood drop area
There’s a larger area for your drop of blood to go on the strip — two to four 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.
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.
Once you’re finished checking your blood sugar, you can eject the strip directly into a trash basket.
Of course, it’s not all about 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 products.
According to the Food and Drug Administration, clinical results submitted to regulators show that with the lowest glucose readings below 75 mg/dL, Accu-Chek Guide hits an accuracy of 100%. The results are within the +/-10% accuracy standard, and two-thirds are within roughly 5 mg/dL points.
On everything above that low threshold, results are all within the 20% accuracy standard and 95% of them are even within the tighter approximately 10% 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% depending on the model. However, the Accu-Chek Guide wasn’t included in this research.
Glucose patterns, insulin dosing calculator
The Accu-Chek Guide offers onboard 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.
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.
Results are displayed in white-on-black text on the Accu-Chek Guide, with the number displayed in big bold font that’s easy to see.
Above the result, you can see the time and date. An additional box is displayed below the result, allowing you to enter comments — such as before or after a meal, exercise or insulin that may be influencing the result, or any high or low blood sugar feelings you might have at the time.
Blood sugar levels 101
For type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes, keeping glucose levels as even as possible is the goal. Sometimes people use insulin or diabetes medications based on the type of diabetes and personal needs. Many factors, such as food, exercise, insulin, medications, and stress, affect glucose levels.
Glucose level targets may vary for everyone based on their unique needs.
The 2022 standards from the American Diabetes Association (ADA) advise that the typical blood sugar range for (nonpregnant) adults with diabetes are:
- between 80 and 130 mg/dL before meals
- lower than 180 mg/dL within 1 or 2 hours after eating
Ranges vary for children younger than 18 years, older adults, and those with chronic medical conditions or gestational diabetes.
This is the second Low Energy Bluetooth meter from Roche Diabetes Care. The Accu-Chek Aviva Connect meter was 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 smartphone.
It doesn’t allow for connectivity to other third-party digital platforms nor 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 website, 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 25, $25 to $30 for 50, and more than $50 for a larger 100-count vial. This means the strips cost roughly 0.58 per piece, which puts Accu-Chek on the slightly higher end among competitors.
Where to buy the Accu-Chek Guide
Roche Diabetes Care offers direct purchases online, including a subscription option to get the number of test strips you need delivered regularly.
You can buy or subscribe to the Accu-Chek Guide program here. Roche Diabetes Care also offers a SimplePay savings program to help people in need afford the meter and strips at a discounted price, either online or from a local pharmacy.
Check with your health insurance plan about 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.
In general, the Accu-Chek Guide receives high marks from people who’ve used this product. On Amazon, it receives 4.6 out of 5 stars.
The spill-resistant vial of test strips is an oft-mentioned highlight for many people, who describe not having to worry about spilling and losing their test strips — especially if it’s late at night, in a darkened room, or in a cramped space while checking their blood sugar.
Some common concerns mentioned are that the strips may produce an error if they aren’t inserted correctly or that the meter doesn’t connect via Bluetooth as well as they’d hoped.
Using the Accu-Chek Guide, I had great experiences using this product for fingersticks. I find the novel test strip container a creative solution, showing the company took to heart a big issue that many people with diabetes have with test strips. The additional lighting options and easy-to-read display made this meter a preferred choice for use at night or anytime it’s dark.
The Accu-Chek Guide is just one of the many meters available. Several other name brands exist, including a variety of “generic” meters that you can find at drugstores and pharmacies.
Here is an overview of some of the fingerstick meter options currently available:
|Accu-Chek||Roche Diabetes Care||Accu-Chek Guide, Guide Me||• easy to use traditional meters|
• Guide includes spill-resistant strip container
• links to Minimed 770G insulin pump system
|Contour||Ascensia Diabetes Care||Contour Next, Contour Next ONE, Contour Next EZ||• easy to use traditional meters|
• design may be vertical or horizontal to display results
• designs differ, with varying sizes, features, displays
• uses different test strips depending on meter type
|OneTouch||LifeScan||Verio Reflect, Verio Flex, OneTouch Ultra||• easy to use traditional meters|
• designs differ, with varying sizes, features, displays
• uses different test strips depending on meter type
|Generic meters||variety of options||includes CVS Health Advanced, True Metrix, ReliOn||• many meters praised as lower cost while also retaining accuracy and quality|
Continuous glucose monitors (CGM)
You may also consider a more advanced technology known as a CGM.
These are not the same as traditional fingerstick meters that check your glucose levels with a small drop of blood. Instead, they provide continuous readings and trends. Current CGM devices include Dexcom, Medtronic, Abbott FreeStyle Libre, and the implantable Eversense by Ascensia Diabetes Care.
What works for one person with diabetes may not for another, so it’s important to consider what’s most important to you in diabetes tools and how those may work best for you based on your diabetes management.
Always speak with your diabetes care team about any glucose level issues or any products they may want to prescribe.
How long does an Accu-Chek meter last?
The Accu-Chek Guide meter uses two 3-volt coin-cell batteries (CR2032). It’s also designed so that Bluetooth and the port light won’t drain the battery life. This meter will allow up to 2,000 tests with an unpaired meter to a smartphone, or as a general rule, the battery life will last for about 750 tests.
Which Accu-Chek meter is the most accurate?
Accu-Chek meters are considered one of the most accurate brands available.
The Accu-Chek Guide uses what it calls the advanced 10/10 accuracy rule. About 95% of measured glucose results should fall within 10 mg/dL of a lab reference value for blood glucose concentrations below 100 mg/dL.
A 2017 summary of the Blood Glucose Surveillance Program by the Diabetes Technology Society revealed other Accu-Chek meters were two of the small number that met accuracy standards.
Are Accu-Chek meters 100% accurate?
No fingerstick meter is 100% accurate. This is because they do not generate from a blood drop the same level of pinpoint accuracy that a lab-drawn test from bloodwork will provide.
Still, Accu-Chek meters (including the Guide) are considered some of the most accurate on the market. Regulators looked at data when approving the Accu-Chek Guide that showed it measured within 95% of lab glucose results.
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 blood sugar and carrying test strips and supplies. These features consider the real-world experiences that people 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.