People usually don’t start to think about data until after they have set up Loop and either run into a settings problem that they need help with, or they are getting ready for a doctor’s appointment and realize they can’t hand over their Medtronic pump (too much data for MMT memory) or PDM (no longer in use) for the office to download.
You should think through your data strategy before switching to Loop. It is helpful to have a couple of weeks pre-Loop data, so if you are having strange blood glucose actions after changing to Loop, you have a record of your data in the same format for comparison.
Do You Absolutely Need a Data Repository?
No, some people do fine without it. If you are someone who already adjusts their settings regularly and the tools you use for that will still be available while Looping, and you already have the reports you need for your doctor or your doctor doesn’t want reports, then you could forgo data storage/reporting.
Loop is going to store some data in Apple Health, which offers some limited reporting, e.g., you can get your basal and bolus or totals by the hour, day, week, or month out of the Apple Health app.
Why Would I Want to Save My Data?
Think through what you might need data for. You would, for example, want data if there is any chance that you might be asking the Looping community for help with settings, or help understanding why Loop did something, such as:
- Why do I have negative IOB?
- Why isn’t Loop recommending a bolus when I enter this meal?
You will absolutely get the best and fastest help if you can post a screenshot of a Nightscout site with all the data rendering turned on. You can still get some help by posting screen shots from Loop (if you capture them soon enough before they scroll off). But without Nightscout views, it tends to take a lot more back and forth. And some of the people who are the best at that type of help will ignore the posts without Nightscout screenshots, because it just takes too much time to extract the required information to help you improve your settings.
Some Options for Saving/Viewing Your Data
Some doctors’ offices use Tidepool for reporting. If your doctor’s office uses Tidepool, you should continue feeding data to it. There is no cost to use Tidepool. To use this option, you need a Tidepool account and you need to have the uploader app on your Looping phone. Many people like the in-app notetaking feature
Nightscout is the preferred option in the DIY Looping communities for capturing data. It can be used in addition to Tidepool and Apple Health. Setting up and maintaining Nightscout will probably be a commitment of about 8 hours per year. We encourage you to think about the purpose Nightscout serves in the whole framework of Looping. If your Nightscout site is down, Loop will still work. Unless you are using it for remote monitoring, such as for a child that is away from the house, it generally is not a critical part of day-to-day Looping.
Most experienced Loopers use the Nightscout site to guide setting adjustments when diabetes decides it’s time for a change. Many use Nightscout Reports to prepare information for a doctor’s visit.
The best information on setting up a new Nightscout site is here.
There is a lot of discussion about how Nightscout is free – the instructions tell you how to use the free, limited-space, options. Be aware that the free services will require you to delete old data to stay within space constraints. Try out the free options first, but then when your database starts to fill up, decide if you want to pay a small fee for more space. It will still be DIY and you’ll still need to maintain the site.
T1pal.com: There is one more option related to Nightscout, which is a fee-for-service plan.
- Pros: T1pal is as close to a “1 button setup” as possible. It will update your site, maintain your database, restart services and perform other troubleshooting. It saves you 8 hours each year that you otherwise have to devote to Nightscout.
- Cons: T1pal is a fee-for-service plan, billable monthly. Support for T1pal is done via email. See the link above for support expectations and service differences. Support from Nightscout and Loop FB groups is not necessarily available due to the differences in the service. Also, especially for parents of T1Ds, it is not possible to enact remote overrides with T1Pal.
More Uses for Data
There may be some uses for having a data repository that are not obvious until you are Looping. Take your time to think about what your needs are for the data, if you want to add a free Nightscout account, or whether you’d prefer a paid T1Pal account. It’s a good idea to build your Nightscout site before you start Looping and begin feeding your CGM data to it in advance. You may soon find it to be your favorite way to view blood glucose data, independent of the usefulness of it once you start Looping.