HemoCue Is Coming

HemoCue knows accuracy. And precision. But Americans with diabetes don’t know HemoCue. Yet. That’s about to change.

HemoCue AB of Ängelholm, Sweden, designs, produces and markets blood glucose meters and other diagnostic products for healthcare professionals. These so-called point-of-care products feature lab-quality test results.

Thousands of hospitals and clinics in the United States use the HemoCue 201 and the HemoCue Classic to check their patients’ blood glucose levels. Researchers like those at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also use them as the standard for judging other meters.

Almost three years ago, the HemoCue company gave me a sample of their professional $600 HemoCue 201, and I wrote about it on my Web site. At that time, HemoCue told me that they were developing a meter that was just as good as their 201 but that would be usable and affordable for people with diabetes.

It’s almost here. According to Joakim Hagvik, HemoCue’s global product manager, by the time this article is published, the company will have applied for 510(k) clearance from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. He recently visited me at my home in Boulder, Colorado, and left one of the new meters with me.

It’s called the HemoCue Monitor, an unfortunate choice of a plain-Jane name for a most fortunate product. How much better it would have been if they had named it something like the HemoCue Analyzer, because that’s what it is.

The name of this Swedish company translates easily into English: “Hemo” stands for blood, as in hemoglobin, and “cue” is short for cuvette. A cuvette is a small, transparent kind of laboratory glassware designed to hold samples. Cuvettes for HemoCue meters serve the same function as the test strips that we have been using.

Like HemoCue’s professional meters, the Monitor uses cuvettes, which can be tricky to use at first. And the sample size it uses—a bit less than 4 microliters—is larger than the blood droplets that most current meters require. The Monitor also takes longer to check your blood, 45 seconds for normal levels and up to a minute or more for high levels.

Joakim told me that he expects the Monitor will cost “in the range of other high-end meters,” or about $70. He also expects that HemoCue will price the Monitor’s cuvettes competitively.

The competition for meter accuracy is about to heat up.

Who Needs This Meter?

The somewhat larger blood droplet needed by the HemoCue monitor needs can put off some people. “But there is a tradeoff between sample size and accuracy,” says HemoCue’s Joakim Hagvik. While not everyone will appreciate the Monitor’s accuracy, it’s important for these five target groups and situations:

  1. When you might be going low
  2. When you need to know just how much insulin to take, especially if you are a pumper or a child
  3. If you are pregnant, because of special concerns about the fetus
  4. If your diabetes is not well controlled
  5. If you are someone who is very interested in controlling your diabetes by downloading your data and checking the effects of your meals and exercise

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