Now I’ve had the Insight pump for a week I thought I could safely write some words about it. When I first read the specs I was shocked by the short battery life of both pump and handset. Having used a fair few different meters over the years I’ve got used to expecting the battery(ies) to last weeks, if not months. The pump uses an AA battery, as did its predecessor, the Spirit Combo. It supposedly lasts about a fortnight or so with predicted normal use. After a week, the display is reporting 100% battery capacity. Whether this will gradually decline or suddenly drop I’m not sure. But since Accu Chek/Roche provide batteries I’m not too fussed about it. Battery changing is very quick and simple.
The handset I still have concerns about. It’s advertised as having about 3 days battery life. It has a rechargeable, mobile phone type, battery. They advise a nightly charge to ensure it’s always fully powered. I’ve experimented a bit by leaving it one night and was surprised that, even after 2 days continuous use, the battery level indicator hadn’t moved far down the small icon. I’m assuming it would drop a bit quicker once day 3 came around. I didn’t want to risk that so charged it that night. The biggest problem I see with this is that it doesn’t allow blood testing while charging. So those 3am hypos where you’re not sure which alien planet you’re on, could be made even more fun by having to unplug the cable before you test. Add to that the annoyance of the meter then defaulting to the main menu, from which you have to navigate to the test function before you can actually test. I suspect that, when you wake up in the 2s, tired, confused and scared, this could be quite dangerous. Not ideal when every second, and muscle used, counts against you. I plan to contact Roche about this to find out what they were thinking when they designed this ‘feature’.
Power issues aside, I’ve fallen in love with the pump. It’s slightly smaller than the Spirit, but its main advantage is the smooth, uncluttered casing. The tubing exits via the innovative headshell and, apart from two discreet buttons on one edge and a button array on the front, it’s sleek. The rear casing is, I presume, aluminium (This can get cold in bed and you know when you’ve found it!). The front has a colour display that shows everything you ever wanted to know via a pretty simple menu. You can do all the usual stuff via this; TBR, bolus, basal rate change, etc. it also gives clear, step by step instructions for cartridge change, tubing prime and cannula fill. There’s also a zoom function for anyone struggling to view the text. It seems to have been designed with users in mind. Changing cartridges and/or tubing take a couple of minutes with practice. The headshell has the tubing incorporated. This stays in place for up to 6 days. The pumpcarts are 1.6ml novorapid, but apparently refillable 2ml should be available at some point. I’m getting 3 days use out of each cart so far so I’m not unhappy with that. It really is easy. I’ve been using the Flexlink plus cannulas since I started pumping in October, so I’ve not had to change. The only holder that’s supplied is a belt clip but this is very low profile and holds the pump close to a belt or other clothing item. It feels pretty secure and doesn’t have any spring mechanism that explodes every time it catches on anything (car seats for me). I’ve been told that there is latent CGM compatibility built into the pump. Presumably Roche are developing a CGM and maybe that will have some sort of suspend feature. I doubt it will be affordable for most users though.
Now, the handset. Oh dear. I’d been using the Aviva expert for a few years. I liked it, despite a few quirks. This made the combo handset very familiar. Just an extra menu for the pump display emulator. This new handset looks nice, with its touch screen colour display and aluminium bezel. It reminds me of a budget smartphone. If such a thing exists. It has basically the same functionality as the combo handset. But everything’s full colour, icon driven. This is ok but it does seem a lot slower than the combo. To get from test to bolus takes a lot of steps and each one has an accompanying busy whirring symbol. The bolus wizzard seems to take a loooong time to give a result. You don’t want to be in a rush. Maybe I’m expecting too much but I feel they’ve designed this for its own sake. It doesn’t offer anything extra to most people. I can see that it may assist users with limited vision or less confident users with clearer visual instructions. But essentially I see it as a combo in a cheap iPhone. Circa 2009. A small but important detail is the strange choice of carry case I was given. It’s a soft case, similar to the other aviva series meter cases. It has an elasticated loop for the strip drum, one for the lancet device and another for the meter. But this goes across the middle of the touch screen. So the meter has to be removed before use. And best of all, the meter is too long for the case to zip up. It has to be pushed so that it overlaps the strips. Clearly not designed for this meter at all. It may seem trivial but we have to carry this kit around all day. I would have thought someone would have come up with a solution. For now, I’ve bought a compact camera case that keeps it all together. All this said, I don’t feel I can’t get on with it. I can and I do. I just feel they could have either improved the speed and responsiveness or incorporated some new features. It does offer Bluetooth connectivity which is an improvement on the old IR transmitter. If they could develop an app to download the data to a phone or tablet, that would be nice. At present it has to use the 360 software, which is only windows compatible. I’ll have to buy a Bluetooth dongle for my laptop.
In summary, the pump, for me, is a very well designed piece of hardware. The handset is functional and visually pleasing but not an advancement, in my opinion. I’m not going to give it back and will probably get over all the negatives in time. I look forward to seeing if any custom cases appear on the market or whether Roche offer periodic firmware upgrades. Either way, they can feel proud of the pump and the handset can bask in the reflected glory!
Any opinions are purely my own (who else would want them?) and I am in no way connected with Roche or any other organisation. If they wish to ask my opinion before they design another handset, I’m right here.
(All photos taken by, and copyright of, the author. May be reproduced with permission)