We had a long talk about the functionality of their exciting new OmniPod tubeless pump and its current market status. The deal is that the OmniPod is — theoretically — available to patients now, but the company is still building out the infrastructure to actually support users around the country. Unlike other gadgets that can be shipped all over the world immediately, lives depend on medical devices. Local sales offices and trained educators are an absolute MUST before patients hook themselves up to a life-sustaining device. So we West-Coasters will just have to wait a while… *sigh*
Meanwhile, the enthusiastic execs talked about the rash of excitement around this product and how their existing customers, mostly located near the company’s HQ in Massachusetts, are raving. There’s even a man with just one functioning arm who can now, for the first time ever, change his own infusion set and control his insulin “pump” with his one good hand. He used to have to schlep to his CDE’s office every 3 days to have them do it — which meant he could never travel or be on his own for any length of time. Imagine his delight with this new system!
Insulet Technology Manager Rob Campbell is a veteran Type 1 himself who’s been on the OmniPod for about 6 months. He admits that he’s biased, but everything he told me about wearing it confirmed my conviction that this one’s a real life-changer for patients open to something new.
And here’s the cool thing: I even got a chance to test it! Keep in mind that my biggest personal barrier to pump therapy is an aversion to the idea of having a boxy unit hanging off my body via a bunch of plastic tubing. With small kids and a very active lifestyle, I just KNOW the tube would be getting pulled and caught left and right. No, thanks.
The OmiPod is so different, in fact, that the company’s not even calling it a pump, but rather a “discreet, two-part… Insulin Management System.”
My first reaction on seeing it up close was that the Pod (insulin reservoir worn stuck to your skin) was bigger than I expected. It’s a bit larger than a plastic dental floss box, I suppose. But it’s a nice smooth design, and it even inserts itself. Sounds strange, I know, but this means that after using the adhesive to place the Pod on your bod, you just hit a series of commands on the controller unit and the Pod automatically sticks the teeny tiny plastic cannula into your skin with a quickly retracted needlestick. It was so easy! The scariest thing about it was the unfamiliar clicking noise. De nada.
I wore the Pod through our entire hour-long meeting, and got to practice pushing buttons on the wireless, handheld controller unit (distributing saline only for practice, of course). Just an hour, but it was quite comfortable — so much so that I nearly forgot I had it on.
Of course I was curious about life with a Pod: what about swimming, bathing, sleeping and sex? But Rob and Kelly have both assured me that none of these are problematic. You can wear the Pod through almost anything, even bathing, as long as the water’s not too hot (that will kill the insulin, not the unit).
I was, in short, duly impressed. The only frustrating outcome of this encounter was that I’m now more anxious than ever to get myself one of these things. Ever the impatient patient!