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Omnipod Insulin Pump Review

By on August 28, 2013

omnipod insulin pumpOver three years ago, I first reviewed the Insulet OmniPod insulin pump. At the time, it was a revolutionary new approach to pump therapy. Well, the latest version of the OmniPod, introduced in June 2013, has built upon its innovative roots to create an entirely new product that really stands on its own.

That doesn’t mean there haven’t been some past complaints along the way. However, I think you will see that the new version of the pump has really been a massive step forward. The new changes are focused on the user experience and I came away very impressed with the breadth and depth of the changes from the older version.

It’s clear that Insulet Corporation has really put its best foot forward. Let’s take a closer look.

Overview

The OmniPod is the only insulin pump on the market that does not have a tube connecting the pump with the cannula. Instead, the pump system comes in two devices. First, the Pod is a small device that holds the insulin and cannula. The Pod attaches to your skin with an adhesive and dispenses the insulin. Each Pod last for approximately 3 days, then is replaced with a new Pod.

Second, you have the Personal Diabetes Manager or PDM. This device looks like a cell phone and holds the brains of the system. It communicates wirelessly with the Pod and tells it how much insulin to deliver at any given time.

Key Advantages

I don’t often come away saying that the advantages are too numerous to mention. However, this really is the case with all of the improvements to the latest OmniPod. Here are a few worth noting.

  • Smaller, Lighter and Slimmer Pod: The cornerstone of the OmniPod system is that it has a Pod attached to your body that introduces the insulin, yet does NOT have to be attached to a larger device with an annoying tube. The newest version of the Pod that is attached to your skin still has the same reservoir capacity (200u) but is smaller, lighter and slimmer than the previous version.
  • Enhanced Bolus Calculator: The new pump has a suggested bolus calculator that is programmable. This is a huge improvement over the previous version and puts OmniPod on par with the competition.
  • Integrated Glucose Meter: A Freestyle glucose meter is integrated into the PDM. Thus, you only have to carry one device.
  • Training Resources: When I first started reviewing insulin pumps years ago, many of the manufacturers’ websites were awful and provided virtually no meaningful way to learn about their products, let alone compare pumps. Insulet has created a wonderful information portal, both at My OmniPod and MyOmniPodTraining. These sites provide a nice comparison of the old versus the new version of this pump. They also provide a great resource about how to use this pump and how it compares to many of the other choices out there.
  • Ease of Use: There are a lot of features of this system that contribute to the ease of use. Here are a few:

Vibration Mode: You can set the device to vibrate instead of ring, when an alarm goes off.

Self-Inserting Cannula: Really? Yes, really. Attach the Pod to your skin and press a button on the PDM and the cannula slides in on its own. Very Cool! There is also a small window on the Pod that let’s you visually verify that the cannula has inserted into your skin.

Screen: The color screen that has a backlight for low light glucose testing. The new version has a 60 second light versus 20 seconds on the previous version.

5 Feet Communication: The Pod can be up to 5 feet away from the PDM and still communicate. Of course, this does not mean that if you are over 5 feet away it will stop dispensing insulin. In fact, it will keep dispensing insulin at the last settings. It only means, for example, that if certain alarms are triggered on the PDM it will not work if the Pod is over 5 feet away.

Disadvantages

As you can probably tell, I like the new version of this device. Is it perfect? Well, this depends on the user. Here are some possible disadvantages.

  • No Integrated CGM: Many users like to have an integrated Continuous Glucose Monitor (CGM) as part of their pump system. Without this feature, they just aren’t happy. I think the individual user has to ask them self if the enhanced lifestyle offered by not having a tubing delivery system outweighs the convenience of an integrated CGM system. Also, using the OmniPod does not preclude you from using a CGM, it only means that you will have to have a second device. In fact, many users do have a separate CGM.
  • Anecdotal Issues: Some users complain that the Pods malfunction on a regular basis. I would note that in the older version of the pump, this was a significant complaint on this site. The newer version is supposed to address some of these problems. I have read where some people are still experiencing this issue. However, I have also heard other users rave about the reliability of the newer Pods. Again, take this into consideration, however, the convenience of the tubeless system may ultimately sway you to try it for yourself.
  • Bottom Line

    Insulet has made a huge improvement with their latest offering. If you compare the feature of the old system with the new system, you will be surprised with the comprehensiveness of the upgrades. Their website (listed above) details these upgrades nicely.

    The pump is still subject to the Pod adhesive coming undone and possible pod malfunctions, but I have not yet reviewed an insulin pump that does not have its issues. Insulet has some nice resources to help reduce these issues. I think if you like the convenience of a tubeless system, you will most likely enjoy this pump very much.

    Side Note: I would also point out that Insulet is upgrading, FOR FREE, its current customers to the new version of the OmniPod if they are still within the 4 year warranty period. The entire upgrade will take between 3-6 months. I find it incredible that a company would do this for its current customers. Insulet has over 40,000 customers. This is a nice perk for current customers.

    By Erich Schultz – Review Date August 2013.

    TECHNICAL SPECIFICATION

    Model
    OmniPod/PDA
    Size 1.53 x 2.4 x 0.7 (Pod), 2.5 x 4.5 x 1.0 (PDA)
    Weight (battery/insulin) 1.2 oz.(Pod), 4.4 oz.(PDA)
    Battery None(Pod), AAA(2)(PDA)
    Infusion Set Connection None
    Reservoir Size 200u
    Basal Profiles 7 Programs
    Basal Rates 24 Segments
    Basal Increment 0.05
    Basal Range 0.05-30 U/hr
    Bolus Increment 0.05, 0.1, 0.5, 1.0
    Bolus Delivery 7 options
    Memory 90 Days
    Meter Compatibility Yes (built-in)
    Waterproof Yes (Pod), No (PDA)
    Occlusion alarm Yes
    Over Delivery Alarm No
    Near Empty Alarm Yes
    Backlit Display Color Screen
    Warranty 4 years
    Software Download Yes
    Colors White / Black