Tools Reviews: Nova Max Plus

This review is written by Nora Saul, M.S., R.D., C.D.E., Manager of Nutritional Services. The opinions expressed in this article are solely the author’s. Joslin Diabetes Center does not endorse products. 

Name: Nova Max Plus

Category: Blood Glucose Meter

Manufacturer: Nova Biomedical

My overall impression of the Nova Max is of a good meter that may have a bit of a problem finding an audience. When I started to think about whom Nova Biomedical is selling to, I got stuck. The disparate features of the NovaMax can lead to some identity confusion.

Is it aiming for the young type 1 user who would appreciate the ease and accuracy of a meter that can also check blood ketones? Or is it vying for the older type 2 user who has anemia or renal disease? Either of these are prime markets, but often the type of meter that appeals to one may not appeal to the other.

I realize I am stereotyping a bit here. Many patients with type 1 tend to be younger, more technologically savvy and interested in a bit of style in their testing supplies. Older patients with type 2 tend to want something that isn’t going to take half a day to learn that caters to mature eyes and hands. It is difficult to design a meter to meet the needs of people from both ends of this spectrum and Nova Max hasn’t quite hit the mark.

Keeping in mind the above caveats, the meter has some very good things going for it.

Nova is selling this meter on the strength of its accuracy of results. It adjusts glucose readings for hemoglobin abnormalities. It has been the subject of studies demonstrating its superior accuracy, compared to its competitors, and I am willing to take those results on faith.

Anemia and renal disease are significant problems in the elderly population. Very low or elevated hematocrit can affect glucose results in both directions so a meter that can interpolate gives it an edge on the competition.

Now if you’re young and healthy this probably isn’t too much of a concern, but if you have medical problems, or if you are elderly and move in and out of the hospital on a regular basis, knowing your results are accurate whether you are anemic or not is important.

Medication changes are often made on the basis of blood glucose self-monitoring results. If they are greatly off in either direction, a patient can end up with a series of low glucose levels or a period of hyperglycemia. A number of interfering factors, such as non-glucose sugars (maltose, galactose) can skew results and Novo Max technology isn’t affected by most of these either. For the infirm, the very young, the pregnant or those who are focusing on tight control the accuracy Novo Max assures is very important.

Another selling point for people with type 1 diabetes or pregnant women is that it can measure both ketones and blood glucose. Having worked with many patients with type 1 diabetes, I find that many don’t own ketone strips, or if they do they don’t carry them. Having a meter that can do both, makes it more likely they will be prepared in case of emergency.

Another positive is that meter is very easy to use. My usual standard for grading simplicity in a meter is my ability to complete a blood test without having to read the directions. Nova Max Plus passed the test with flying colors. If you are new to testing you would probably have to read the directions, which is fine since they are clear and well written.

One of the meter’s big drawbacks is the small size of the print it uses. The elderly are one group for whom this may be a significant problem. In addition, the space on the test strips designed to insert blood is quite minute. Increasing the point size of the print and the size of the test strip would go a long way to making the meter more low vision and dexterity friendly.

There are other things the meter doesn’t do that are becoming standards for this type of technology. It won’t code your readings in relation to mealtimes, something that is de rigueur for most meters today. It won’t let you add notes, such as ”I skipped insulin at lunch,” to qualify your readings. It doesn’t have a touch screen, attach to your iPhone or give you guidance as to what to do with your medications if your numbers are out of line. Some patients couldn’t care less about these options but the tech savvy group wouldn’t be impressed.

Annoyances

The shape of the meter, a squat, flattened pear that doesn’t fit well in the hand (my palms are small so it was a bit awkward to grasp.) and the fact that you have to indicate that you are performing a control solution test before applying the solution, or the readings will be included as part of your normal results.

Nora Saul, M.S., R.D., C.D.E., Manager of Nutritional Services

Overall opinion

A good, simple, easy to use meter for those who need a higher level of accuracy or the ability to check blood ketones but aren’t interested in bells or whistles.

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