Accucheck Pump

Accucheck Pump

Accucheck Pump

Accucheck or Roche have long been associated with diabetes products that include Accuchek Glucose Meters and now the Accuchek Spirit Insulin Pump. Roche entered the pump market after purchasing Disetronic Insulin Pumps, who previously marketed the H-Tron and D-Tron.

Accucheck Spirit Features

Why people like, or dislike, Accuchek pump

Like other pumps, the Accucheck Spirit Insulin Pump offers all the basic features of basal rates (5), standard bolus, extended bolus, combination bolus, and temporary basals. It is considered one of the most basic pumps in terms of features. Below are other features of the Accu-chek pump that people either love…or not.

Two pumps for the price of one (sort of)

This by far is the Accucheck Spirit’s best selling feature. It comes with a backup pump for piece of mind.  However, that back-up pump is only programmed to work for a few months. It’s not like you are getting two full pumps for the price of one. Still, it is a very good “backup”. The flip side is that pumpers of other brands pointed out that they received replacement pumps within 24 hours or less usually.  The majority of pumpers have never needed a replacement pump. So some people have not been enticed by the offer of a second short-term insulin pump. However, this may be an important feature for you, especially if you have previously had a bad experience with receiving a replacement pump. Piece of mind may be just what you are seeking.

Reversible display

Means you can wear the Accucheck pump upside down and still see the screen right side up! Sounds great. I think the reason I don’t hear people raving about it is they don’t know about it; that and it takes pressing 5 buttons to do it. Most people just won’t do that.  However, if this feature is important to you this pump has it!

Limited lifespan

Accucheck Spirit Insulin Pumps are only programmed to work for a set number of years ( 4-6 years, depending on if you believe the original manual that was posted online or the reps –  but check with the company), then they stop. You have to buy another pump. The pump does give warnings ahead of time. Some people have commented that this is desirable, as they would rather have new pumps regularly since their insurance pays. Other people, however, comment on the opposite. They want a pump that lasts, especially if they have paid out of pocket, there are lifetime limits on their insurance or they have lost their insurance with job change. Be sure to clarify the lifespan of the pump with the company representative if this is a concern for you.

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Option of Handheld PDA device

The Accucheck Spirit Insulin Pump does not have a calculator or bolus wizard built into the pump. It does have a separate hand-held PDA device (or depending on where you live the option of a smartphone) to do calculations. Some people love this since it offers bigger print for easier reading and backlight (although, most pumps do have a backlight now). Yet others complain the print still too small.

Some folks with diabetes like that that they don’t have to take out their pump (from pocket or ..ahem..bra) to do a calculation. They can do it on the PDA. The flip side is that some people dislike having a separate device to do calculations as they’re worried about losing it. And if they do, there is no wizard or calculator in the actual Accuchek Spirit insulin pump. Or they are tired of carrying devices. People with diabetes are burdened with alot of baggage – insulin  pump, glucose tabs, meter and whatever else they normally carry including cell phone, keys, pager… (The list is worse if you are a women. My purse is never big enough and strangely enough, most men have an aversion to carrying a purse for all their stuff. Someone needs to market manly man bags, don’t you think?)

Some people have found the PDA to be of little use since it does not communicate information to the insulin pump. Whereas some other insulin pumps beem the blood sugar reading directly from the glucose meter into the pump. However, the Accu-chek Spirit pump can communicate information to the PDA to generate reports. Of course, other pumps can communicate with computers and software to do that too.

Here is the functionality of the PDA: You would check your sugar, input into PDA or in some cases the meter can input directly into PDA, input carbs into PDA, determine units needed. Then you manually program the pump to deliver those units. Which may or may not be an issue for you. First time pumpers usually don’t mind. Long-time pumpers who have used other features on other brands of pumps voice dissatisfaction more often.

Basically, the PDA that comes with the Accucheck Spirit Insulin Pump is a calculator and data organizer. This is 2009 and hopefully future models of Roche Accucheck pumps will allow for glucose meters to communicate results with the pump. The current issue, if I understand correctly, is that Medtronic holds the patent on delivering glucose information to pumps. Other pump companies pay Medtronic a fee if they choose to use this technology (and they do).

Side mounted tactile buttons for easy bolus programming through clothing

The title sort of says it all. This is another thing Accucheck Spirit insulin pump users really enjoy about the pump. The flip side, users of other pumps previously may not be as attracted to this as they can usually program boluses through clothing too! (but not if you want to use the wizard bolus and correction calculator, then you have to look at the pump.)

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Basal segments can only be programmed on the hour

This means that a change in background insulin can only be programmed on the hour (eg. 8:00) and not at a half hour time (eg. 8:30). Other pumps allow for both. There aren’t a lot of comments about this, as most people don’t have an issue with this. Although, the occasional person with diabetes is very fine-tuned and finds the half-hour timing matters to their care, most people with diabetes won’t find this an issue.

The smallest basal and bolus increments are 0.1 units

This is adequate for most people with diabetes and they have no issues or don’t even know that issues could exist. However, for people or children who are very sensitive to insulin, and take a very small amount in the day, then being able to program hourly basal rates using 0.05 increments has sometimes proved most useful. This Accuchek pump may not meet their needs.

Simple to use without the PDA

Some have commented that the Accucheck Spirit is a simple pump to use without the PDA because it will just do the basics with ease. Sometimes, that’s all people want. Easy basics.

Accepts luer lock infusion sets

Most infusion sets on the market have luer locks (except the Paradigm sets) so most infusion sets, even from other companies, can be used with this pump.  Be sure to check before ordering. Why is this a bonus? Ask around – you may find friends using infusion sets that they just love and you’ve never even tried before.

Customer Service

Like ALL pump manufacturers I have heard both good and bad stories here. And again, like all pump manufacturers, the good predominate. You’ll see this same comment for the other brands. I know of two people who have chosen their second pumps from rival pump companies because of being upset from previous experience with customer service. In each case, both were disappointed because they didn’t get the key working features of the pump they wanted or needed most (one needed continuous glucose monitoring, the other needed a bigger screen). Yes, customer services is important but if the companies were all equal, which pump would you choose to best meet your needs?

Other comments: No continuous glucose monitor.

This option is not available inside the Accucheck insulin pump. However, there are continuous glucose monitors that can be purchased and used separately with any pump or even those with diabetes who don’t pump.

Best of luck with your decision for choosing a pump. Review your pump choice with your educator, doctor and insurance company prior to purchasing.

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