Sunday, June 23, 2013

New meter, again.

I use pretty much whichever meter is integrated with my Medtronic insulin pump. It keeps things simple. First they gave me a B-D Link Meter, then about two years later they switched to One-Touch Ultra Link, and now they are paired up with Bayer. A few months ago they shipped me a Contour USB Next Link. Yep, next is right.

The Next Link is supposed to be more accurate, and it has a USB connector right on it, and works to upload your pump data. So, you don't need another device to upload your stats to the Medtronic CareLink reports website. It's pretty small too.

All that said, I'm not totally flipped over it. There are definitely some things I like about it, but unfortunately the things I don't like about it pop up every time I use it.

My old Linked meters used to just send the test results directly to the pump and initiate a conversation about a correction, if needed. This one asks me every time if I want the results to be sent to the pump. Every time... I have to decide. It also asks me upon each test whether this is a before meal test or an after meal test, I always push "no mark" because... I really don't care... (my pump already has all the meal times programmed so I can look at that data later). So, before I can see my darn numbers I have to answer questions, and then I have to tell it to send the results to my pump. I'd love to skip the questions and just get on with it. This is a major weakness with this meter, for me... I've thought that maybe it can be programmed to skip this stuff, but I haven't investigated. (I just did and found that you can either "never send results", or "ask me".)

Okay, other factors... 
  • Despite the meter being small, the case is just as big as other meters have been. This is okay for me, because I always try to keep my Symlin pen with my meter, and it barely fits in the case. 
  • The elastic strap that holds the meter in place is flimsy and cuts right across the middle of the screen. This is weird. 
  • The zipper on the case opens in an unintuitive way so that whenever I unzip it, my meter is upside down. It's like you have to forget all you've ever known about books, left to right, and top to bottom.
Some good things...
  • I like the color screen.
  • The results are quick, once you answer the requisite questions and finish getting annoyed. 
  • The test strip container is big enough for you to get your finger into the container and drag a strip out. I've had a few meters where you had to shake them out.
  • The meter has a rechargeable battery that you can recharge less than once a month by attaching the USB connector to your computer. My other meters only needed batteries about once a year, so this isn't necessarily an upgrade.
  • Accuracy? I tested this meter against my One Touch Ultra Link a few times and didn't find  much of a discrepancy. I think it may just be a reason to get users on board with the change, but in the end it probably isn't that significant, considering that the accuracy standards for meters are rather soft (+/- 10%). The change probably had more to do with business relationships and money than accuracy. Maybe I'm just jaded?
That's what I have on this. I'd be interested in hearing from anyone who has thoughts on this change. And if you know how to make it more convenient to operate, let me know...

Update: After messing around with the settings a bit, I was able to turn off the "before meal/ aftermeal" questions. Now I just have to test and send reading to my pump. It's not as annoying, but still kind of unnecesary.


  1. Thanks for the review -- I received one as well and haven't used it yet. My insurance coverage for the strips is horrible, so I think I'm going to stick with the UltraLink for now. I guess if it dies on me, or I lose it, I'll have to make the change.

    1. I'm getting my strips through my durable medical coverage directly from Medtronic. I don't pay any co-pay when it's through them, since it's included with my pump/sensor package. Do you have a pump, and is it covered?
      At my local pharmacy, with my regular Rx coverage, the One-touch strips became a non-preferred brand, so I had to go to Medtronic to have them covered. Then I just switched to Bayer with them. It's a tricky game.