A little insight

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.

Insight pump & handset

Insight pump and handset with strips

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’.

Insight pump rear

Aluminium rear of pump

Insight front view

Front of pump

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.

insight in belt clip

Pump securely held in belt clip

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)

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15 Responses to A little insight

  1. Great write-up Rob! Looks like a great pump, but a bit of a shame that the handset is a little on the slow side 😦

    Saw a *great* adaptation of a meter case on a young person’s blog yesterday that used (self adhesive) velcro stuck to the back of her meter to secure in the carry case, with the other side stitched into the case itself. Really clever solution.

    In terms of download – have you experimented with Diasend? I believe that will work well with Roche pumps (along with miscellaneous other D tech) and would allow snazzy reporting/data display and is Mac compatible as far as I know.


    • robster65 says:

      Thanks Mike. Slow beginnings!
      I’ve seen a lot about Diasend but not looked into it. It sounds like it could be a solution. It looks like a lot of peeps are swapping to Insight so maybe Roche will address a few of the issues. But meantime, any hacks welcomed!


      • Tazmando says:

        Diasend is great and worked really well with the Aviva Expert. My daughter has just been fitted with an insight. Unfortunately the insight is not compatible with Mac. A hardware issue apparently (something to do with an incompatible USB). I’ve asked Diasend if there is a workaround on its way and will update here when I here back. I agree with many things in your review. Overall the pump and meter is great and designed with the user in mind (putting aside the USB issue). However, the meter is a bit flimsy and I worry about its longevity – time will tell!


  2. Julie Unruly says:

    Like you, after using injections for many years, I progressed onto the Accu-Chek Spirit Combo last year. I upgraded to the Insight yesterday and I agree with you about the pump and in particular about the handset. My biggest issue is I do a lot of camping over the summer with no access to the mains. I’ve just bought an in-car charger and am hoping the cigarette lighter in the van works! 😉


    • robster65 says:

      Hi Julie. Funnily enough, camping was one of my concerns too. Ive got a mobile emergency power pack which will charge it. The rep had no solution she could offer other than to find a pub with a wall socket!
      I don’t think they’ve thought a lot of the issues through.


      • Alex says:

        Recently got an insight pump a really good tablet portable charger works fine i use the Anker pack. Have passed this on to Roche


  3. Sedge says:

    Thanks for the truth !

    Mike(EDUAD) has said Robster, that he thought the Insight handset gave you the opportunity to expand on the previous Combo way of recording only X grams of carbs – does it?

    And – especially considering I don’t wear nightclothes, is a skin available yet? Can’t see anything on the Roche-web so far. I find the Combo skin an absolute must in terms of both wearing and sleeping with it. Wearing – because of the flat clip, which you say the Insight has anyway so that’s an improvement, but also because it never feels cold – and sleeping both for warmth the same and for comfort if I roll over etc.


    • robster65 says:

      There is a ‘note’ option for free text with each test/bolus etc. I’ve tried it and it does remain associated with the entry in the log. Could be useful but I’m not a great note taker.
      As for bed. I’m the same. The only accessory that I was given is the clip. Whether there are plans to produce skins or other bolt one I don’t know. The white ‘cloth’ zip up cover that came with the spirit just about fits. I tend to just take my chances and hope I don’t roll on the metal back! As summer approaches it should be less of an issue.
      Comfort wise, there are no bits poking out and even the tube comes out of one side so nothing to dig in or snag. If anything, mine slides towards me as I move about.


  4. Sedge says:

    Ah well, which cloth case do you mean though? The one us girlies can use to hang from the side of our bra when wearing frocks etc, or the one with the zip and press stud, of which I have 2, black one on a lanyard and the white one I had at the same time 4 years ago that I have actually never used. And if they fit, wouldn’t the Combo skin also fit – esp if it was a new one ?



  5. robster65 says:

    It’s the white one with zip and stud. It was a bit of a stuff to get it in. I wasn’t offered a bra one, which I thought was rather presumptuous of the rep! I’ve not got any skins either but the overall shape is slightly different and there are buttons in different places, etc. I’d be surprised if there aren’t some skins on the market soon, with it being quite popular.


  6. Iain says:

    hi, my 19 yr old son got issued an insight kit today by our NHS trust having used a spirit for 4 years. He thinks it’s a big step. Can you tell me if when you do a blood check and it comes back as a hyper if the kit automatically corrects the insulin rate to compensate or he’ll still need to manually input a correction??


    • robster65 says:

      Hi Iain.
      Firstly, I would always advise to get in touch with your DSN or Roche careline with any queries like this. There may be additional information they can give and they’re trained to give advice.
      I can say that when I test high, I use the bolus advisor on the handset to advise a correction dose and nothing happens until I ok the bolus. The choice is always with me as to how much, if any, insulin to give.
      Functionally, I see the insight handset exactly the same as the Expert. It’s just presented in a touch screen format.
      I hope that helps.


  7. Sedge says:

    I wanted to comment on the bit about changing the tubing every 3 days ….. I need to change my cannulas every 2 days since after that, 9 out of 10 sites on me, fail PDQ. An absorption issue that we all knew I had before I even started pumping 6 years ago – the vast bulk of my tum is still unusable. (NB there hadn’t used to be any ‘vast’ bulk – but sadly it’s getting vaster continually now ! LOL) Anyway about a fortnight ago my DSN asked me how often I change my tubing? I replied that as a cartridge lasts me 5 days roughly – I change the lot with each new pumpcart. She said that was fine.

    So which DSN was correct? Are either of them LOL ?


  8. robster65 says:

    Hi Sedge. Thanks for reading. My assumption is that Roche will be issuing (yet another) field safety notice about this at some point. The info was passed on to my DSN by the Roche rep, so it’s probably only just been decided. I’m going to action it since it has no impact other than requiring more sets. If the order line query it I’ll go back to my DSN. I would assume your DSN hasn’t yet been told. I’ve had no problems with leaving cannulas for 3, or even 4, days but I’m able to avoid the central area of fatty tissue on my abdomen, which must help. I injected there for years and pretty much buggered it for future use! I’ve heard of people using upper arms but it must be tricky to manage the tubing. And anyone using a libre or CGM seem to like this area for the sensor.


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