New glucometer: LifeScan OneTouch Verio

I have visited LifeScan’s website and I noticed that their homepage is suggesting people with glucometers of the OneTouch Ultra series to upgrade to a new series. The reason for the change is purported to be found in new regulations on quality and precision of glucometers, but I could not find any reference for it.

As usual, this is a free upgrade – glucometer manufacturers are generally happy to send you a free meter, since they make most of the money on the testing strips instead – so I ordered one, and I received it (or rather picked it up) this Monday. It’s a OneTouch Verio.

The first impression is that it’s a very bad match for my previous Ultra Mini: it’s big and clunky. The whole case is about twice as big in volume. For me, as I travel a lot, this is a bit of a problem.

On the bright side, this is the first meter that I own that is not powered by CR2032 button cells. This model uses AAA batteries, which not only are much simpler to source, but are already always present in my luggage, as my noise-cancelling headphones uses the same. I also bought a 40-pack of them last time I’ve been to Fry’s.

Also, while the upgrade from OneTouch Ultra 2 to Ultra Mini maintained the same set of testing strips, the Verio comes with a new strip type. This puts it into the same bucket as the Abbott Precision Xtra in my perception, which also requires a different set of testing strips. The reason why I consider those the same is that they both have “costs” associated with the change in strips. In particular since I already have two meters (actually, three if I count the one that is set to Italian readings), which means I can keep one at home and one at the office.

Similarly to the Abbott device, and unlike the Ultras, the new strips are not coded — it makes sense since the Ultra strips also have had the same code – 25 – for the past four years. This is good because at least once every two weeks I have to draw a second sample of blood because I put the first one too soon, before the meter accepted the code. These strips also require less blood than the old ones, and even less than the Abbott strips. Funnily enough, I never got in Europe the “new” Ultra strips I’ve used in the USA before, which require about half the blood as the standard European strips. Go figure.

Also most obvious difference in these trips is that they load blood on the side rather than the tip. I’m not sure why, but I like it — it feels like it’s less likely to get ruined when you shake the strip bottle.

New meter also means new protocols of course. Unfortunately, LifeScan already refused sending me the protocol of this device, which once again puts it into the same category as Abbott’s. Interestingly enough, unlike both Abbott and the old Ultras, this device has a standard microUSB connection. Unfortunately by default it shows up as a mass-storage device with exactly one file in it: a redirect to the LifeScan website. I assume the software (which I have not installed yet) will modeswitch it to serial somehow and then proceed from there. If I had enough time I’d be setting up my Windows laptop for logging USB traffic and try to reverse engineer both this and Abbott’s protocol.

Funnily enough there is another meter, called OneTouch Verio Flex only available in Ireland, which has bluetooth connectivity. Whereas there’s the Verio Sync in the USA, which syncs with an iPhone app (no Android app, though.) I wonder if I should call them up and see if I can get myself one of those as well; it uses the same strips and would solve my problem of having more than one meter using the same stash of strips.

The meter also came with the new “OneTouch Delica” lancing system. Once again the same that was true of the meter is true of the system: it uses a new type of lancets, which is something that not even the Abbott device did. Indeed I have some four lancing devices that share the same kind of lancets already, and they even fit each other case, mostly, as they usually only have an elastic loop to fit on.

Comparatively, I’m happier about the new lancing device than I am about the meter. Not only the lancet is finer, which hurts significantly less – but would not work well with the old strips’ need of blood – but exactly as they promise on the website the new device does not vibrate, which also makes for a less painful experience.

In my experience, pricking your finger multiple times a day is the most painful side effect of the light diabetes I have, so reducing that pain has a quite significant improvement in my daily quality of life.

All in all, I’m happy that there are improvements always going on… I just wish the improvement went towards reducing the size of the device as well as improving its precision and information.