Insulin pumps are critical for blood glucose control in people with type 1 diabetes.Unfortunately, choosing the right pump can be overwhelming. Even more difficult is that the expense can be like the down payment on a small house, especially if you do not have insurance! However, choosing the best diabetic pump can be simplified with some basic background knowledge.
However, not all insulin pumps are created equal. The features can change fairly significantly amongst brands and models. In fact, despite the hefty price, it is remarkably difficult to get good, or at least consistent, information about the various models.
What is exciting is that over the last four years, new and exciting innovations have been made to pump technology. Continuous glucose monitoring has been improved and new companies have entered the market, bringing fresh ideas and improvements.
Compare Insulin Pump Reviews
We have discussed some of the most important features below and have highlighted them in our individual pump reviews. There are also extensive comments from users and family members to help guide you towards the right pump for you.
As of 2012, there are only six pump manufacturers selling in the United States. Most of these companies only produce one model, however Medtronic and Roche do produce multiple models with some minor differences.
We have exhaustively reviewed owners’ manuals, company websites, customer complaints and endorsements to assemble the most complete information possible. Here you can compare insulin pump choices and find the best diabetic insulin pump for you.
Take a look at some of the pump reviews above. We have standardized our reviews so that you can knowledgeably compare pumps to make the most informed decision.
insulin Pump Comparisons: There aren’t many different pumps in the United States. However, it is very important that you make the right choice given the expense and importance of the device. This page give a brief comparison of each pump so you can get a “bird’s eye” view of the pump landscape.
t:connect Insulin Pump Software: In 2013, I was invited for a sneak peak of Tandem Diabetes unveiling of the software that goes with the t:slim insulin pump. Simply put, this software is fantastic! The color interface is easy to read and understand, just like the t:slim pump itself. Check out my overview of the software to see if it sways your decision to give a closer look at the t:slim pump.Latest Pump Prices: To the extent available, we look at the various pump prices. I also explore your options for paying for the pump and the need to insure the pump. Lots of good practical tips.Pump Infusion Sets: All pumps have what are called infusion sets, except the OmniPod. An infusion set brings the insulin from your pump into your body. The set consists of a thin plastic tube, a connective devise (almost like an industrial strength band-aid) on your skin, and a small needle like device that extends under your skin (called a cannula). For more details on infusion sets (which ones to consider) and some great deals on where to buy them, check out this dedicated page.
Discontinued Pump Reviews: Accu-Chek Spirit and the Nipro Amigo.
For an amazing selection of personalized insulin pump accessories and wear, please visit our friends at Pump Wear.
How to Choose Right Insulin Pump
If you are exploring the option of insulin pumping or deciding on a new pump, here are some basics for choosing. As the various pump pictures show, the device is approximately the size of a large smart phone.
Most pumps (except the OmniPod) have a small plastic tube that extends from the pump to a device that attaches to your skin. The items which connect your pump to your skin is called an infusion set.
Insulin Delivery and Reservoir
The insulin delivery occurs day and night and you can increase or decrease the flow based on your needs, e.g., more insulin can be delivered at meal times. There are two different insulin delivery rates you will need to understand.
The normal continuous flow of insulin is called the “Basal Rate”. The range of basal rates that a pump can deliver will vary per pump. Most are approximately the same amongst pumps.
However, if you are purchasing the pump for a child, they may need smaller doses, so the basal rate of the pump you are looking at is important.
The “Bolus Rate” or dosage is the periodic insulin increases you need due to meals or other conditions. Almost all pumps can be programmed or manually configured to deliver the bolus dosage all at once, over a set period of time (like an hour or two) or some combination of the two.
If the insulin pump is being used by a child, you will need to determine if the bolus rate can be set to deliver smaller dosages that are age appropriate.
The reservoir is also a key component. Most people like to have enough insulin in the pump to last for three days. Most infusion sets (more below) are exchanged every three days, so people like to change the sets and the reservoir together.
Also, some people need a lot of insulin for one reason or another. Try to make sure the pump you choose has a big enough reservoir to meet your needs.
Memory and Software Integration
Your insulin needs will change over time and under different circumstances. Keeping track of your dosages will allow you and your doctor to monitor these changes and adjust your dosages. Most pumps allow for 90 days of data storage, although some have a shorter period.
Some pumps, but not all, can download the data into computer software programs that allow you to manipulate the information into usable graphs charts, etc. You will most likely be using this pump for at least 4 years, so make sure you take a look at the software and like it. Also, ask your doctor if they have a preference for how they want you to manage the data.
Blood Glucose Monitoring
A pump will allow you to receive insulin; however, you will need to figure out your best options for monitoring your glucose levels. Some of the pumps have partnered with certain glucose meters to provide an easy monitoring option.
For Example, the MiniMed Paradigm pumps are compatible with the OneTouch UltraLink. The meter sends results to the pump wirelessly.
In contrast, the DANA Diabecare IIS and Nipro Amigo have no integrated or wireless option. You will need to manually adjust your pump based on any glucose meter test.
The MiniMed also has a unique feature called a blood glucose sensor and MiniLink® transmitter. This allows you to have Continuous Glucose Monitoring without a separate meter. This is currently the only pump with this special capability.
Other Factors and Considerations
There are a number of different other features and considerations for any given pump. Here is a brief checklist of features that may matter to you.
- Size: Most pumps are the same size, but make sure you are comfortable with it. If you do not need the bigger insulin reservoir, you may not want to buy the bigger insulin pump.
- Waterproof: Most pumps claim to be watertight (check to make sure) and are fine if they get a little wet. However, others have more extensive water protection. For example, the OneTouch Ping is waterproof to 12 feet of water for up to 24 hours. Not sure why your pump would be at the bottom of the pool for 24 hours, but you are covered nonetheless.
- Tamper proof: Most pumps have the ability to lock the buttons. This is a great feature if you have kids, but adults may find this handy as well.
- Colors: People being people, most like to express their individuality. Some pumps allow you to choose as many as five different colors.
- Upgrade Practices: If you are a veteran pumper ask if your manufacturer (and others) has any upgrade specials.
- Alarms: Some pumps have overdosing alarms, this could come in handy! Also, some alarms are adjustable, for example some pumps have a “Near Empty” alarm that you can set to different levels.
- Foreign Language: Some pumps have many different languages. If you or your insulin pumper has a primary language other than English, this may be helpful.
While not inclusive of all features you can have on any given pump, these should get you thinking a bit more clearly about your options.