OmniPoding

Over the weekend I had a chance to meet with Insulet Corp. execs Jeff Smith and Rob Campbell (everyone’s in town, remember?)

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!

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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!

77 Responses

  1. Ruby
    Ruby June 4, 2007 at 10:02 am | | Reply

    My wife started on the Omnipod a few months ago, and it has been a godsend. She tests more, hasn’t yet lost the device, and it doesn’t make her “feel like a patient,” with tubes hanging out all over.

    When she tried a traditional pump, people would come up to her in the street and ask her what it was! Strangers! She also felt awkward while intimate, which as we know is not a sexy feeling. And she’s active, and getting the tubing caught was a problem for her.

    Here in Seattle, even though the Omnipod is not officially available on the west coast, it’s available through Joslin, which is east coast-based. You may have some luck, other west coasters, by checking in with your area Joslin, if one is around.

    My current problem is that our insurance company contracts with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts, who covered the device, but is denying her claim for pods. Omnipod tells me they’re in negotiations, but meanwhile her pods are running out, and it is too costly for us to pay for out-of-pocket.

    It’s a complicated situation, but I wonder if anyone else has had success with either Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts, or with another Blue Cross company. (Ours is Premera Blue Cross, which has usually been excellent insurance, if any of you want to put in two cents about them.)

    I urge anyone who is not getting the pod covered to call the American Diabetes Association. Their advocates are terrific, and if more of us call them, they will make an issue out of the lack of coverage. I have also spoken with JDRF, with far less success.

    You may respond here or use the link below to contact me at my e-mail address. Thanks for all your input.

  2. Ruby
    Ruby June 6, 2007 at 9:23 am | | Reply

    My wife started on the Omnipod a few months ago, and it has been a godsend. She tests more, hasn’t yet lost the device, and it doesn’t make her “feel like a patient,” with tubes hanging out all over.

    When she tried a traditional pump, people would come up to her in the street and ask her what it was! Strangers! She also felt awkward while intimate, which as we know is not a sexy feeling. And she’s active, and getting the tubing caught was a problem for her.

    Here in Seattle, even though the Omnipod is not officially available on the west coast, it’s available through Joslin, which is east coast-based. You may have some luck, other west coasters, by checking in with your area Joslin, if one is around.

    My current problem is that our insurance company contracts with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts, who covered the device, but is denying her claim for pods. Omnipod tells me they’re in negotiations, but meanwhile her pods are running out, and it is too costly for us to pay for out-of-pocket.

    It’s a complicated situation, but I wonder if anyone else has had success with either Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts, or with another Blue Cross company. (Ours is Premera Blue Cross, which has usually been excellent insurance, if any of you want to put in two cents about them.)

    I urge anyone who is not getting the pod covered to call the American Diabetes Association. Their advocates are terrific, and if more of us call them, they will make an issue out of the lack of coverage. I have also spoken with JDRF, with far less success.

    You may respond here or use the link below to contact me at my e-mail address. Thanks for all your input.

  3. Ruby
    Ruby June 6, 2007 at 9:26 am | | Reply

    Lots of mistakes on that last post, not the least of which is that there’s no way to contact me below. So here’s my e-mail: nobanana@hotmail.com. Thanks!

  4. Denise
    Denise August 4, 2007 at 11:24 pm | | Reply

    Any Omnipod users having trouble with their pods? We are not getting pod errors, but when we bolus to correct a high blood sugar reading, we routinely get a higher reading at the 2 hour post-check. It appears that the cannula is kinking or bending. We have only been using the system for about 3 weeks. The first two weeks were awesome. However, the last five days we have had to change a pod everyday due to it not correcting blood sugar reading after bolus, even though the pod does not alarm. Anyone else have this experience and have a remedy to suggest? We hate to give up so soon but are very frustrated.

  5. Kathryn
    Kathryn August 13, 2007 at 12:26 pm | | Reply

    Ruby, If you are changing your basal rate alot even in small increments, your blood sugar can go up and stay there for a while even after bolusing to correct the high blood sugar. Because you have to actaully suspend the pod for a moment in order to change the basal rate, I have noticed that for the next few hours, my blood sugar can run high even after bolusing.

    Does anyone ever have a problem with the pod coming off. I ahve used the skin tac that they recommend but sometimes it seems like it might come off.

  6. Kathryn
    Kathryn August 13, 2007 at 12:27 pm | | Reply

    Sorry I meant that comment to be directed towards denise

  7. Norine
    Norine August 14, 2007 at 11:23 am | | Reply

    I have had Type I since I was 19, I’m 40 now. Been on a pump for 10 years and can’t imagine life without it! Am in the market for new pump and am wary to veer from my original Minimed/Medtronic pump because I’m comfortable with it, but the Omni Pod intrigues me. I don’t think I care for the fact of not being able to disconnect in times of need….

  8. Holly
    Holly September 11, 2007 at 7:32 pm | | Reply

    Our 10 year old son has been on the Omnipod system for over a year. It has been wonderful!! He is very active in many year round sports, and we all love how nice it is not to deal with tubing! He came back from D camp this year and had bunches of kids and parents asking about the pods and durability. He was the only child out of 80 on this product as it is still in limited release for pediatric patients. Insulet has been there 100% for us with any questions or concerns. Any questions we can answer, hollygt6@aol.com

  9. Holly
    Holly September 11, 2007 at 7:33 pm | | Reply

    Our 10 year old son has been on the Omnipod system for over a year. It has been wonderful!! He is very active in many year round sports, and we all love how nice it is not to deal with tubing! He came back from D camp this year and had bunches of kids and parents asking about the pods and durability. He was the only child out of 80 on this product as it is still in limited release for pediatric patients. Insulet has been there 100% for us with any questions or concerns. Any questions we can answer, hollygt6@aol.com

  10. brittany
    brittany September 12, 2007 at 10:05 am | | Reply

    I just got my omnipod about 3 weeks ago and am loving it. i do gymnastics as well as work in a circus, and i am so happy that i was able to switch from a tubed pump to a tubeless pump!

  11. Rita F
    Rita F October 13, 2007 at 6:44 pm | | Reply

    Are you able to sync the pdm with a pc yet? My Omnipod is enroute as I type and I so look forward to losing this god awful tubing.

  12. Debbi
    Debbi December 11, 2007 at 11:23 am | | Reply

    I’ve been on insulin pumps for almost 13 years now. I’ve tried Animas & Medtronic. I now use the Omnipod and I love it. I love not having tubing, and I’m wearing clothes that I wasn’t able to before, unless I had some place to put my pump. Now, no problem, I can wear anything. I wear it in the shower, during sex, swimming,etc and it’s not something you notice. It seems a little big at first, but then by the end of the first day, I forgot I was wearing it! I also find it cheaper than my other insulin pump supplies and I have been wearing the Omnipod for 9 months now. I love it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  13. cyndi
    cyndi January 6, 2008 at 12:35 pm | | Reply

    My daughter (13) started on the pod about two weeks ago. She never wanted to use a pump as she hated the thought of being teathered to something. She just loves it and I love not having to help her with shots or hitting a “bad” spot and having her get mad at me. She plays a lot of sports so this is ideal. Insurnce paid for the entire thing and even sent soneone to the house 2x to train us. She trained one day and went live two days later. Particularly for a teenage girl , this is definitely the way to go as it is much easier to hide the pod than a pump and you dont need to access it to give yourself a bolus.Also, the PDM is so easy to use for teens who live in an electronic world to begin win. Right now she wears it on her stomach (which is interesting since she has never given herself a shot there), but she intends to place it on her arm during softball so it doesnt get in the way should she have to slide. Overall I think this is a great device!

  14. Stu Davidson
    Stu Davidson January 7, 2008 at 9:12 am | | Reply

    While on vacation over the holidays, I needed to change a pod…….no big deal, right? I checked my BG and it was in range, pulled off the old pod and activated a new one, put it on and then went out to dinner with freinds. I bolused accordingly, etc. Two hours after dinner I felt tired so I checked the BG and it said “High.” (The PDA stops at 500. Anything over that just says “High.”) I immediately changed the pod and started a new one. When I examined the pod, the stainless needle that (supposedly)inserts the canula into your skin was peeking out of the top of the pod, at the seam where the clear plastic window is. There was no alarm, no error and obviously no occlusion because it was pumping insulin into thin air. I’m not a litigious person, but this type of design flaw and clear lack of quality control is extremely serious. I felt it with my finger and it initially looked to be a burr on the plastic. When a company makes a medical product to literally keep people functioning (as an organ replacement), it is paramount that errors such as this do not slip through the cracks. I called both my rep and Omnipod customer service to let them know of the problem. Type 1′s such as myself who have lived more than 41 years with the condition have multitudes of experience. I’m not a complete idiot. On the down side, the four decades of time with the disease has lowered my sensitivity level. When I felt the pod go “click” to insert the canula, I assumed the canula had been inserted as designed(and why shouldn’t I, who would expect the needle to launch launch out the top? If other users experience this gross malfunction, please let them (Insulet) know immediately. Fortunately, I did not go into DKA. It took a massive amount of sub-cu to get back within nornal range.

    This is the only serious issue I have had with the device. I have really enjoyed it and plan to keep using it. Whoever is assembling the pods themselves need to take a very close look at the production process. These are the kinds of things that can turn into litigation and no one wants that.

  15. Joanna
    Joanna January 8, 2008 at 9:20 am | | Reply

    I’m considering trying the Pod and this will be my first experience with an insulin pump. Many of the comments above are from 2005 and 06. If there are any long term pod wearers who wish to share their current thoughts on the pod please do. Short term wearer comments are also welcome. Thanks -

  16. Anne
    Anne January 8, 2008 at 9:26 am | | Reply

    Is anyone having trouble with the 3-day insertion site changing colors? What about taking warm showers twice daily…any trouble with the insulin losing strength?

  17. Margaret
    Margaret March 26, 2008 at 4:08 pm | | Reply

    I’ve been wearing the OmniPod for about 2 years and have lots of good and very bad things to say about it……The cost is $34.50 per pod…..not a real problem for me because my insurance partially covers the cost. But I’ve had one too many pods fail on me for me to ever trust them again……One box of 10 pods had at least 6 duds. The company ‘forgot’ one time to mail my pumps on schedule and promised twice that I would receive them overnight and did not.
    The great part is that you can (usually) wear them all day and night long. I’ve snorkeled and showered without any issues. But I’ve had more than my fair share of pods that did not ‘stick’ after a shower, or swimming, or even sweating.
    I got so disgusted with the pods the other day that I’ve decided to go back to multiple injections. At least I know what I’m getting and my sugar levels have been better than many of the weeks I wore the pump.
    Also, much data is saved on the pump (glucose readings, boluses, basal rates, etc.) but there is NO way to download the information to a computer, so I have to write everything down in a log book…..I could go on and I’m happy to relate my good and bad experiences.
    BTW, you can’t wear it in a bra and unless you are really thin or always wear loose clothing, there is a bump under your clothes at all times.

  18. Nic
    Nic May 27, 2008 at 11:48 am | | Reply

    Hi-My name is Nicole and I have been a diabetic for 26 years. I am 29 now and I am going back and forth about getting the pump…”pod.” It was the physical aspect of having something poking out of clothes and having that bump from it…I think that I grew-up and realized that my life is more important than a bump. I have an incredible boyfriend and he feels that it’s silly if I don’t get it. He said that he could care less…I think I needed to “grow-up” and find that person doesn’t care about the physical appearence of the pod and start living the life that I want. I enjoyed reading the blogs and it made me realize that I am making a good decision. Thanks!

  19. Victoria
    Victoria June 9, 2008 at 11:10 am | | Reply

    Hi- I was a medtronic user for 8 years- I have been through two different pumps with them but have had awful problems with the sites for the paradigm pump. To say that they were less than helpful through the processes would be a huge understatement. Once my warantee was up in Feb. I started looked for something new. I narrowed it down to the pod and the animas and was leaning towards the animas because I am so used to the tubing. My fiance convienced me that the Omnipod would be much better for our lifestyle- I can’t imagine ever going back! While the pod might seem a little large for some people I dont think it is any different than a regular pump in your pocket or tucked in clothes. I would like to see the pdm link to my computer but my DE says it is coming soon- (I can already link it to her computer)

  20. Bob
    Bob June 29, 2008 at 7:46 am | | Reply

    Been using Omnipod for a year. Omnipod dose have a lot of duds happens a lot about 2 of every 10

  21. ROBBIE BELL
    ROBBIE BELL December 5, 2008 at 7:54 pm | | Reply

    Who’s making all the money…. a ton of it….like the finger sticks…that you just stamp out by the millions and charge 1.00 each for…..have insurance companies pay for it….Right!!!! That’ll work.
    Should bring it to market when, canulas can be snapped in the shell. Just let the “pod” carry the bottle….wouldn’t weigh more. They advertise…. 1.2 oz….they forget the batteries…..4.0 oz….= 5.2……why don’t they just shoot it all straight…..and bring it to market…when people with diabetes can afford it.

  22. ROBBIE BELL
    ROBBIE BELL December 5, 2008 at 7:59 pm | | Reply

    Unbelievable…you can’t download to a computer….are you for real l$%^#$&%^?….its 2008 – “Insulet Corporation”……sexy promo materials though, gotta hand it to them.

  23. ROBBIE BELL
    ROBBIE BELL December 5, 2008 at 8:17 pm | | Reply

    The market will love a “pay as you go sytem”….Duane…pay as you go is forever until we pass away – you think we might not purchase for oh….say a couple weeks or maybe skip a month……..and you manufacture them in china…..thats even better, maybe that’s why theres so many duds as noted above…..from Margaret and Stu.

    Try again, shut down the millions and do it right.

  24. Samantha
    Samantha August 6, 2009 at 9:20 pm | | Reply

    I would wish to get it, but I dont have insurance so its ober expensive! I got diagnosed with Type 1 about a month ago, and i seriously HATE needles, so ive practiclly been in the hospital all the time :\
    Maybe if they made it cheaper more people would get it.

  25. Roxanne
    Roxanne November 16, 2009 at 7:19 am | | Reply

    I’ve been a Pod user for a year and just love it. A1C is 6.0, cholesterol is normal now, blood pressure normal. I can’t really find anything to complain about other than the cost, but everything associated with this disease is expensive. I’m looking forward to the day that the pod will “talk” with a CGM and will keep me “normal” all of the time.

  26. Ron Eller
    Ron Eller December 21, 2009 at 11:49 pm | | Reply

    I am VERY DISAPPOINTED in Omnipod customer service. When I got my initial order I had 8 pods fail. I wasn’t too concerned I was told they woud be cheerfully replaced BULL^&%# . I was placing my first reorder and told the rep about the failures she completed the order then cheerfully stated I would be transferred to someone else for the warranty on the Pods. A whole different story. The training program comes straight from the shyster debt collectors handbook. keep them talking keep repeating the same lame reason for not replacing the pod usualy some peice of info you don’t have. In the new shipment I have had 3 communication errors in a row, Guess what that i also my fault no poods to be replaced. I haven’t gotten to compan to BSBC, MEDCOST and my endocrinologist yet but I fully intend to.

  27. Rick
    Rick February 22, 2010 at 8:14 am | | Reply

    Beware of this company Insulet.

    Make sure, and I mean 100% sure that your insurance company covers the cost of the pump. See if you can get it in writing and keep a copy of all your records.

    About 2 years ago I was told mine was covered and they sent me the pump and supplies. 2 months later they told me that there was an issue with them being “out of network” but that they would take care of it.

    They kept billing a few times and every time I called back to refute the charge they said not to worry and that they would look into it and call me back. They never did. The bills stopped. That is until about 4 months ago, they rudely called telling me that I owed them the money for the pump and that if the insurance co. did not cover well, too bad. I told them that I would not have gotten the pump if my insurance co. had not covered it. (Who would?). Michael Semiao billing manager’s response “too bad, that’s not our problem”.

    I’m still fighting the charge. Specially since I received both a letter from their collection agency asking me too pay as well as my insurance’s explanation of benefits which states that it had been paid and that I owe nothing.

    Are they trying to double bill?

    Thread carefully., they’ll tell you everything is ok with your insurance, but if something goes wrong they won’t tell you and then try to stick you with the bill.

    BTW, their pump is a good idea. But I stopped using it about one year ago because the only way to find out if there was something wrong with my insulin delivery was when I checked my sugar and discovered that it was in the 300-400 range or when there was a puddle of clear insulin all around the injection area (no alarm) or when the cannula was completely bent and if it weren’t for the pain it caused I wouldn’t have noticed it since the pump never gave me any signals. I stopped trusting it. Every time I sat down to eat, it was a bit scary because I wasn’t sure if the insulin was going to be delivered or not.

    Now I’m following Dr. Bernsteins treatment. It’s hard, but it’s worth it if I want to keep all my limbs right where they are right now.

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