A couple of weeks ago I mentioned that I was getting some new software for recording my diabetic data to replace my old Accu-Chek Compass software. Compass was created in Microsoft Access and was not so much outdated as positively prehistoric! As I’m in the lucky position of using one of the biggest, blackest, butchest and best BG meters in existence, the excellent Accu-Chek Compact Plus from Roche Diagnostics (pfft, hardly – Tim], it’s pretty obvious the software was from the same source to allow PC and meter to communicate. As always, there is no communications standard to allow any meter to access any software, manufacturers are far too proprietorial for that!
The software comes with a new USB cable to replace the old one that hooked into the serial port. Shaped a little like a cloverleaf it has an electric blue flashing light designed to induce seizures in anyone unfortunate enough to be epileptic as well as diabetic. I’ve not yet found a way to switch this light off; if I do I’ll let you know. What this light signifies though is that by placing your meter with its infra-red port pointing towards it, switching the meter to communication mode will automatically start the download. The downside is that this pops up a window requiring input from the user, but it pops up in the background rather than on top of all other open windows, so unless you know about it you’re left wondering what’s going on. Apart from that, the communication between meter and PC is easy and quick.
Once you’ve downloaded some data, the differences in the software quickly become apparent. Installing it and setting it up is frightfully easy, especially if you’ve been using Compass as you can port all your data across into 360°, making the transition pretty much seamless. The Main Menu page is still a little on the clunky side, but attractive enough and easily navigable. Where this software really scores over its predecessor though, is the amount of data that can be stored and the additional information that can be input by the user. As well as all the downloaded data from the meter it’s possible to input insulin doses, events, and comments on the diary entries, as well as recording a wealth of other information such as HbA1c, blood pressure, three types of cholesterol, height, weight and a list of medications amongst other things. Almost everything can be printed out, emailed, or faxed directly from the current screen with relative ease.
Reporting from the system is also pretty comprehensive, though the reports are only customisable to a certain extent and there doesn’t appear to be any way to create new custom reports. Having said that though, data is exportable to Excel or Open Office with little bother, so custom reports are available for the geekier geeks.
Over and above the reports available such as the log book and diary, the standard graphical reports are perfectly adequate and make communication with diabetes professionals pretty straight forward. Personally I use the Trend Graph more than any other, though the Target Chart is quite useful too. In all cases a raft of statistics are also available to keep track of your lifestyle. The program now offers three reports for pump users as well; though not being a pumper I was unable to try these with live data, so I have absolutely no idea of how useful they are.
In conclusion then; Accu-Chek 360° is easy to set up, easy to use and provides all the information you could wish for in a clear and reportable format. The ability to add data to diary/log book entries makes it eminently suitable for both T1 and T2 diabetics (Roche must have read all those emails I sent them!) The whole package is easy to use, though not perfect of course, but generally head and shoulders above its predecessor. The biggest drawback of course, is that it’s tied solely to Accu-Chek meters, a minor point I know, but a more open system would be so much better.