Whether you realize it or not, most blood sugar meters store information about the tests you perform and also let you recall the date and time that you checked your blood sugars. Some meters keep track of the “control” and “checkstrip” quality control tests done to ensure the accuracy of your meter. More advanced meters even store additional data such as events like low blood sugar symptoms, insulin doses, activity levels, the amount of food consumed or even your HbA1c levels.
To really tap into the information in your meter, you will need a cable to hook it to a port on the back of your computer. These cables are proprietary and you will need one for each brand of meter you wish to download. Cables range in price from $5 to $140. This cable connects the meter’s data port to your computer’s serial port, a plug distinct from the printer port, usually on the back panel of your computer and used for transferring information. Occasionally, you might also need a nine- to 25-pin converter available in most electronic stores for about $5. For those of you with Macintosh computers, ask for the same cable that you would need for an external modem.
If you are in the market for a new meter, you should ask about these features:
- What can I store? (blood sugar, medication dose, food intake, activity, etc.)
- How much information will the meter hold?
- What do I need to connect the meter to my computer (and what will it cost)?
- What software is available that will “talk” with it?