Press Release

Research Highlights the Need to Ensure Accuracy And Patient Choice of Diabetes Testing Supplies

Inaccurate Blood Glucose Meters Cause Safety Concerns; Government’s Competitive Bidding Program Limits Access

For Release: January 21, 2014

Two new surveys conducted by the American Association of Diabetes Educators demonstrate once again the need for the healthcare, insurance, and diabetes educator communities to ensure that people with diabetes are using meters that are appropriate for their individual needs – and are accurate.

One survey – conducted online in November by Harris Interactive for the American Association of Diabetes Educators – found that 27 percent of patients with type 1 diabetes had experienced health problems due to inaccurate blood glucose meter readings. Roughly nine percent of those with type 2 diabetes had experienced health problems as a result of inaccurate readings.

While accuracy was ranked by a majority (60%) as one of the top three most important factors in determining which meter to use, more than two-thirds (68%) were not aware that many meters available today do not meet global standards for accuracy. 

“Patients with diabetes need to understand that there is inconsistency in meter accuracy and they need to ask their diabetes educators which is the best meter for them individually,” said AADE Chief Advocacy Officer Martha Rinker.

Separate AADE Survey Tracks Medicare Competitive Bidding of Diabetes Testing Equipment
In addition to dangers posed by the inaccuracy of meters generally available in the marketplace, a new Medicare system in which patients receive diabetes meters from mail-order suppliers selected through a competitive bidding process seriously diminishes access to the most accurate meters.  In many instances, the meters preferred by patients and recommended by diabetes educators and physicians are not available in the market place since the onset of the Medicare Competitive Bidding Program.

A separate AADE survey of 23 of these contract suppliers of durable medical equipment (DME) found that none of the suppliers offer products reflecting greater than 50 percent of the market, as intended by Congress, and that only three of the suppliers actually carried each brand of testing supplies that they reported to Medicare they were providing.

“This study shows that the national mail order program is limiting access to diabetes testing supplies,” said Rinker.  “Limited availability of products from suppliers is compounded by inconsistent and inaccurate information from Medicare and the suppliers themselves. These two factors serve to make it difficult for beneficiaries to find selected products and to remain with familiar and accurate test systems.”

“Effective and consistent self-monitoring of blood glucose levels is essential to diabetes control,” said Joan Bardsley, MBA, RN, CDE, FAADE, president of AADE. “Increased risk of devastating and costly long-term complications – such as blindness, kidney damage, cardiovascular disease, and lower-limb amputations – as well as acute complications such as hypoglycemia are associated with inadequate blood glucose control. If beneficiary access to the most appropriate or familiar glucose monitoring systems for the individual is disrupted, there is a possibility of inappropriate self-management decisions and an increased risk of developing complications.”

Download the executive summaries.

AADE received research funding for the study with Harris Interactive from Roche Diagnostics, and funding for the survey of contract suppliers from the Diabetes Access to Care Coalition (DACC). DAAC members include Abbott Diabetes Care, Bayer Diabetes Care, LifeScan, Inc., and Roche Diagnostics.

Methodology:

Harris Interactive survey
This survey was conducted online within the United States by Harris Interactive on behalf of the American Association of Diabetes Educators between November 5-18, 2013 among 507 US adults age 18 or older who have been diagnosed with type 1 or type 2 diabetes, use a blood glucose meter, and administer insulin to treat their condition. This online survey is not based on a probability sample and therefore no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.

Competitive Bidding Compliance Survey
Members of the American Association of Diabetes Educators surveyed winning suppliers listed on the www.medicare.gov website as of August 1, 2013, one month after the expanded program was launched.  Surveys were conducted during the period September 4th through the 23rd. Surveyors were furnished with a list of contract suppliers and contact information.