We have been using the Omnipod Insulin Pump now for 2 years. It’s time to write a review to help those considering the Omnipod for their child. Choosing the right pump can feel like you’re navigating a minefield, all pumps do the same job, but different insulin pumps offer different features. Hopefully our review of the Omnipod will answer many questions you have, if not feel free to leave any questions in our comments section. Here we will run through what we believe are the features and benefits of the Omnipod, and describe the reality of using this insulin pump.
Our hospital offered the full range of Insulin Pumps for us to choose from, I researched each pump and made a wish list, then chose the pump that ticked the most boxes on our wish list, for us that was the Omnipod, though everyone will be attracted to different pumps for different reasons.
The Omnipod is rather unique compared to other Insulin Pumps on the market currently. It is the only tubeless insulin pump that is readily available, also known as a patch pump.
There are 2 components, the Pod and the PDM (Personal Diabetes Manager), though we tend to call it the handset or the remote control.
The Pod measures 3.9 cm × 5.2 cm × 1.45 cm. Essentially around the size of a custard cream biscuit. It has a self adhesive strip and you simply stick it to the body, it can be worn on many different areas, though the most popular seem to be the lower back, tummy, arms and thighs.
Inside the Pod is all the mechanical workings, the cannular and the insulin reservoir. The reservoir holds 200 units of insulin. It can be worn for a maximum of 3 days, it is a recommendation across all insulin pumps to change cannular after 3 days. 200 Units is a pretty average sized reservoir, it may not be big enough for teens or those with high insulin requirements to last the full 3 days, if it doesn’t, it’s not a big deal you can change the Pod sooner. After 3 days the Pod will beep to alert you that it is time for a change, which we find pretty handy so we don’t forget and we keep to best practice. If you leave a cannular on for much longer you run the risk of absorption issues. Once you reach the full 3 days, you then have a further 8 hours in which to change the Pod, after 8 hours it will alarm and cannot be used any longer.
The PDM is essentially the remote control. From the handset you can set temporary basal rates, change ratios, deliver a bolus, basically do pretty much everything you would want to. The screen will show you the last blood glucose number, last bolus size, how much insulin is on board, as well as some other indications. It’s not as modern to look at as some other handsets on a couple of other pumps, but it is robust, which is important with children. Though I won’t lie, I’m looking forward to the next release PDM which should be slicker.
The Omnipod Insertion process is one of the things that attracted us to this pump, it’s so very easy, and the PDM talks you through a Pod change step by step. Firstly you simply deactivate the current pod using the PDM, then tell it you want to start a new pod. Next step is to fill a pod with Insulin, using a vial and syringe. Once that is done it’s time to prime the Pod, just by touching a button, priming only takes around 30 seconds. Once primed you then simply stick the Pod to the body, once in place you press the Start button for the cannular to fire. The needle will fire and retract automatically in less than a second, leaving the flexible cannular in place. The cannular looks like a flexible plastic thread, nothing scary about it. Omnipod insertion is ideal for those that are needle phobic, automatic insertion means you never see a needle. It’s all so fast and simple.
Here is a video that shows you just how easy it is.
Omnipod Blood Glucose Meter
The Omnipod PDM contains a built in blood glucose meter that uses the Abbott Freestyle Testing Strips. We find it useful having a built in meter as it’s one less bit of kit to carry around. We also like the Freestyle Test Strips as they use the smallest blood sample of any test strips, this is around half of what many meters use. We also like the fact that if you don’t get enough blood on the strip straight away you have time to add more before getting the error messages. However if you do have blood glucose meter that you particularly like, you can continue to use that and manually input the readings into the PDM. If you are worried that your child may not be using the correct readings or making them up etc, which I know can happen in the teen years, when you look back at the blood glucose history on the PDM next to any readings that have been inputted manually you will see a black question mark, so if your child is meant to be using the built in meter you can quickly see if there are any issues with not testing.
Beside the automatic insertion, we’ve found many other benefits to the Omnipod Insulin Pump. Being tubeless offers so much freedom. There is no need to remove or unhook the pump for any activities such as PE and Sport. Removing any risk of forgetting to put it back on. Another benefit to using a tubeless pumps, you will not get air bubbles in tubing that can lead to high blood glucose events. Should a Pod suffer an occlusion (stop delivering insulin) the Pod will alarm and tell you to change the Pod. However if you have a problem with the cannular not inserted correctly and the Pod continues to deliver insulin it will not know that you are not receiving insulin, so whenever you have unexpected high readings it’s best to check the Pod for leaking insulin or look through the window on the Pod to ensure the cannular is in position. If in any doubt you need to do a Pod change, though this is the same rule for all Insulin Pumps.
The Pod is also waterproof, we’ve tested this to it’s limits on holiday, in and out of the pool, cliff jumping into the sea, and a full day at the water-park. Nor do you need to remove it for showering or taking a bath. Life just carries on as normal, you can forget about the Pod for the full 3 days.
My son was 10 when he first started using the Omnipod, he is also pretty shy about anyone seeing his equipment. We have found the Omnipod to be very discrete, he likes to wear it on his lower back, this means when wearing a t shirt or school uniform it just can’t be seen. Having a separate remote is also very discrete.
Traditional pumps with tubing need to be kept in a pocket, or a pump belt or even clipped to the waistband, there is no need for this with the Omnipod.
We would not personally want to be without a separate handset like the PDM. It’s useful at night and when my son is busy or active, I don’t need to invade his space to access the pump, I can just walk up to him with the remote and make any changes I want to.
Honestly for us there are very few negatives. Yes it would be nice if the handset was modernized but it’s robust, as I say.
The minimum basal rate is 0.05 units which is larger than some pumps but this has never caused us problems, we started using the Omnipod when my son was in the Honeymoon Period and on small amounts of insulin and even then we didn’t ever feel like we needed smaller doses. Though for very young children in the honeymoon this may be a consideration, though I’ve read in many Omnipod support groups of toddlers using the Omnipod successfully.
Now in fully established puberty there are times when the 200 unit reservoir isn’t large enough to last 3 full days but I guess if the reservoir was larger the Pod would need to be larger too. There aren’t many insulin pumps that offer a larger reservoir anyway. On those occasions when we don’t get 3 days out of a Pod, change over is very quick and easy anyway.
As I’ve said the handset to us is a real bonus feature but there is a risk of losing it, as it contains the built in blood glucose meter I’d like to think your chances of going anywhere without it are slim. If you do lose the PDM though, the basal will continue until the Pod expires but you won’t be able to deliver any bolus until you have a new PDM. We’ve never had an emergency with the Omnipod so I don’t know how quickly a new PDM would be delivered but whenever I’ve ordered anything we’ve found customer service to be excellent and new supplies arrive on a next day delivery.
Omnipod has no facility for integrated CGM, but you can use a stand alone system. We have just ordered the Dexcom G5 to use along side it. We are currently using the Abbott Freestyle Libre, Flash Glucose Monitoring System which has been great working alongside the Omnipod.
Omnipod Insulin Pump Review Summary
Whilst I can’t say we’ve ever tried any other Insulin Pumps we are delighted with the Omnipod. We’ve found it very reliable and easy to use. We love the unique features that it offers and at this time, if we were choosing another Insulin Pump we would choose the Omnipod again. The Omnipod might not be the right pump for you but I hope you’ve found this honest review useful.
Our experience with the Omnipod have been very positive, but this doesn’t mean it’s the right pump for you. If you are also using the Omnipod please leave your personal review in our comments section below to help others that are considering a tubeless insulin pump.
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