Selecting the Best Hardware

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How to choose the best diabetes device for you?

With the start of spring, you might be thinking about freshening up your diabetes hardware. Every year new meters, pens, pumps and continuous glucose monitors come to market.

Whether you decide to stay with your old-standby or upgrade to something new and improved has a lot to do with your personality—are you the type to trade your car in before the tread on the tires is even worn or do you wait until it needs to be pushed into the dealership before you are ready to even look at this year’s models? But whether you are an “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” or a “have to have the next great thing” kind of person, knowing the type of questions to ask about the different categories of hardware available will guide you to make an informed choice, even if that decision is to stay right where you are.

Even though the FDA has decided, for the present, not to adopt the new ISO standards for meter accuracy (today’s meters must be within 20 percent of actual blood glucose laboratory readings) many meters are tightening up their game. If you have a history of lows, or hypoglycemic unawareness or if you are pregnant or thinking of becoming pregnant, than greater accuracy is a big deal. It is worth checking to see how your meter fares in this department.

With the passing of the years is your eyesight dimming, your hands not as limber? There are meters with voice that announce your blood glucose reading, while also displaying it on the screen. Some meters come equipped with backlights that help you see in poorly lit rooms. Is fishing for the strip in the container and then trying to put it in the slot in the meter akin to the carnival game of toss the ring on the bottle? There are meters that serve up strips or lancets in drums so you never have to touch single pieces.

How much memory do you need? Do you check once a day and write all your numbers in a paper log, or are you pricking your fingers eight times a day and checking out trends over the last year? There are now meters that save 200 readings and others that hold 5000.

Of course if you can’t afford it, it doesn’t matter how wonderful the meter is. As Marianne Chojnicki, MHA, RD, CDE, nurse educator at Joslin Diabetes Center says says, “Remember to check with your insurance about which meter is “preferred” on your plan. The “preferred” meter will ensure you the least out-of-pocket cost.”

How much insulin do you take at meals? If you can’t remember what you had for lunch today, then having a pen that helps track when you last gave an insulin injection may be just the ticket. If you are in excellent shape and a unit of insulin may send your blood glucose plummeting, then a pen that provides insulin delivery in one-half units might fill the bill.

Insulin Pumps
When it comes to deciding on a pump for the first time or choosing an upgrade, size (both pump and insulin volume), patch or tubing, pre-filled or not, delivery volume, and number of devices you want to carry are some of the questions you need to ask yourself.

CGM–Continuous Glucose Monitor
Which will it be pump combo or single use device? Togetherness has its advantages in that you can use one receiver to see information about the pump and also the cgm but on the other hand following that path locks you into only certain pumps, which may or may not have the features you need.

No matter what type of hardware you have now, now is a great time to ask yourself a few questions about what suits your needs.

Want to learn more about diabetes technology? Check out some of the programs and classes at Joslin

2 Responses to Selecting the Best Hardware

  1. Nancy Moxley says:

    This is not a comment but a plea for information.

    I am a type 1 juvenile onset diabetic of 51 years. Until a year ago I had no major problems with it. Now for almost two years I have had episodes of severe hypoglycemic unawareness. Many survivals have been nothing short of a miracle.
    I have been trying to acquire the Dex Com meter which will be a lifesaver for me.
    My problem is that I don’t have the insurance to cover the costs. Is there any organization which
    helps cover the costs of this meter?
    I sincerely appreciate any feedback concerning my situation.

    • Nora Saul, Manager Nutrition Services says:

      Dear Nancy Moxley,
      It is unfortunate that some insurers do not see this as a worthy assessment and treatment tool. Often times a personal conversation between your physician and the medical director of the insurer along with documentation of repeated lows and the result of those lows (such as emergency room visits) can be used to persuade insurance companies to cover these devices on a case by case basis.

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