Diabetes Testing

People with Diabetes Like These Meters

Most of us who have diabetes are happy with the blood glucose meters that we use. This is the main conclusion of the first Blood Glucose Meter Satisfaction Study. This study by the marketing firm J.D. Power and Associates came out today, and I interview Scott Hawkins, its director of healthcare, for further insights.

They based the study on responses they got last month from 2,681 meter users. Scott told me that they used online panels of respondents who have opted in to take surveys and that they used their email responses.

The study included all the meters from the four top meter manufacturers, Roche Diagnostics, Abbott Diabetes Care, Bayer Diabetes Care, and LifeScan. Why just those four companies? “Because they make up 80 of the market,” Scott replied. In fact, almost all health insurance plans limit our choices to meters from these four companies.

The survey respondents answered questions about performance, ease of use, design, features, cost of test strips, and training. Overall on a scale of 1 to 1000, Roche ranked first, scoring 838, followed closely by Abbott, 837, then Bayer, 830. LifeScan, which is the American market leader in size, ranked last in satisfaction, 820. But these numbers, particularly the one point separating Roche and Abbott, are so close that Scott says the differences are not statistically significant.

But which meters — not manufacturers — ranked best? “I can’t get into that level of detail,” Scott replied. Besides, he continued, the numbers are too small to be statistically significant. “However, the newer meters that were smaller did have a higher level of satisfaction.”

Many of the survey respondents got their meters at no cost. About 40 percent of them said that the main reason why they used a particular meter was because it was free, Scott says. “Other people could have received their meter for free, but that was not their main reason for using it.”

When they had a choice of meters, their top four reasons for selecting one are test strips that are easy to use, fast testing times, less blood needed, and the price of the meter. Brand loyalty is high. In fact, 83 percent of them say that they definitely will or probably will stay with the same meter manufacturer when they buy their next one.

Over time we become better at minimizing errors and get more confident in our readings. As it becomes part of our daily routine, it becomes harder for us to consider switching to other brands.

Scott says that J.D. Power and Associates intends to repeat this survey annually. That’s good news for those of us who have diabetes. From my years of editing a small business magazine in the 1980s I know how important this company’s surveys are to the auto industry. If they can influence such large companies as GM and Ford, their attention can also motivate the blood glucose manufacturers to do better.

This article is based on an earlier version of my article published by HealthCentral.

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