Pros: Comopact, inexpensive, controllable glucose monitoring system
Cons: Readings can't be changed, small buttons
Early this year I moved from medicine to insulin to control my Type II Diabetes. I had a Bayer Contour meter that I had seldom used. The doctor needs regular readings to adjust the insulin injection amount. I started using the meter more frequently and recording the readings in a spreadsheet. Not long ago I wrote a review of that Bayer Contour Blood Glucose Monitor. A commenter wondered why I didn't use the Bayer Contour USB meter instead. My response was that Medicare would not spring for the cost. I was wrong. The original meter had been obtained before I went on Part B. Medicare. With a prescription from my doctor, it did pay for the new meter and I was on my way to easier logging for my doctor.
Bayer 7393 ConTour Usb Blood Glucose Monitoring System
I will try to compare and contrast this meter with the Contour from earlier times as I describe the use of the meter and the included software. To start with a description of the meter, it looks much like a memory stick for use with a USB port. It is not much wider or thicker than a memory stick. It has a cover over the built-in USB plug just as memory sticks usually do. The similarity stops there, however. Along one side of the device is a color LCD display. Alongside the display are three buttons whose purpose varies with the current function of the meter. Slightly recessed in one long edge is a button labeled menu which is one way to get the meter turned on and menu choices displayed. It also turns the meter off. Either operation requires keeping a small button, slightly recessed, pushed in for a couple of seconds. I still have some trouble making this happen on the first try. A difference between this meter and the earlier Contour is that the battery is rechargeable on the USB version. Making this less valuable is the fact that the battery in the USB version is not replaceable. When it stops holding a charge you are supposed to throw the meter away. There are instructions about how to properly dispose of the battery when this happens.
One obvious difference between the USB meter and the older Contour is size. This is also both positive and negative. Smaller size is more convenient, but also makes the buttons smaller and a little harder for someone with large hands like mine to manipulate. Another difference is that the meter naturally lays in your hand along its long edge as you insert a test strip, which is another way to get the meter turned on. The menu writing and the readings are upside down for a lefty like me. Luckily this doesn't bother me since I became adept at reading upside down to allow me to read things I wasn't supposed to see on my boss's desk. But that's another story. Speaking of test strips, both the Contour and the Contour USB use the same Bayer test strip. This was convenient for me since I had a good supply of those already on hand.
The firmware for the Contour USB is similar to that for the Contour, but with more functionality. When a test strip is inserted in the slot on the short edge that doesn't house the USB plug, a blood drop and test strip appears on the display after a short boot up. When the blood fills the test strip a menu with three choices appears beside the three buttons. One is Before Meal, another After Meal, and the third No Mark. these will remain until one is chosen. During this time, the meter is going through a five second count down. If the choice is made within the five seconds a clock face appears with the remaining time counting down. If the reading is outside the set limits the reading is displayed in orange after the five seconds even if no button is selected. This brings up one of the increased functionality of this meter over the Contour. You can either use the meter's preset limits or choose your own. The readings can also be changed via the included software which is available for both Windows and Mac computers. More about this software later. Once the reading is displayed, first in nice large letters then gradually shrinking as other information is added to the screen, more choices are available. One is notes. There are several pre-programmed notes to choose from. One I use sometimes is Activity when I have done some strenuous activity and have then taken a reading and chosen No Mark. The selections are changeable until the current reading is stored. If you pull the test strip, for instance, you will be stuck with whatever was there just before. Since this information is ultimately sent to the computer software, bad selections can skew averages. Another choice here is Reminder. This function on the Contour was a clock icon. There is a preset time when the meter will sound an alarm for an after meal test. This time can be changed. The alarm sounds, pretty softly, twenty times. This function can be useful when determining if a dose of short acting insulin is controlling the blood sugar peak after eating.
Getting to the setup mode for the meter is accomplished by pressing and holding the menu button with no test strip inserted. After boot up three choices are displayed. One is Logbook where the actual readings and notes are available. Another is trends where the before meal, after meal and no mark averages are shown. The lowest choice is Setup. This is where the settings can be individualized for each user.
Glucofacts the Software
A software package called "Glucofacts Deluxe" is available for download. This program can be used with the Contour USB and the Contour with its optional cable. If the Contour USB is plugged into the computer USB port while the software is running, it automatically downloads the meter log to the program's log. The program usually starts out with the log readings for the last 30 days displayed. Any out of limits readings will be in orange if below limit or yellow if above. Normal range readings are in green.The software limits can be different than the meter limits. The log is summarized by time of day in segments selectable by the user. Within each time period the results are further gathered by mark; before meal, after meal, and no mark. At the bottom are averages, highs, and lows for each column.
The interface uses the file folder tab method of changing main pages. In addition to Reports where the log resides, there is a tab for profile information about you, system preferences, and meter information. Under the reports tab, in addition to the Log, are Trend, Standard Day, Standard Week, and Summary. Each of these summarizes the individual readings in a different way. Any of the report pages can be printed or saved to the computer. My doctor likes just the summary of the log page and the standard week page. I inundated him with printouts the first time. He wasn't too amused.
The program can handle more than one person's information. Each will have their own pages and settings. If the meter is connected, its ranges can be changed through the program. Glucofacts Deluxe is fairly powerful and, so far, bug free. But there are downsides. Information can be input manually which is what I did to move a couple of weeks of data from the Contour for averaging. This information can be changed or deleted any time. The readings downloaded from the meter, however, cannot have their tags changed or be deleted. If you get it wrong at the meter level it will be wrong forever. You can add a comment to the reading, but the program won't use the comment to ignore that reading. Frankly that is the only thing I dislike about the meter and its computer program. Except for some problems with big hands on a small device and a little learning curve it was easy to integrate this into my diabetes management plan.