- Lisa Foster-McNulty, RN, MSN, CDE
Every four years, we are asked to vote on who will become the next president. If you wear an insulin pump, every four years your warranty will run. You get to exercise your right to continue with what is familiar - or jump over to something that is different and potentially a better choice for you! Either way, it’s not a decision to be made lightly. You’ll want to start thinking about this at least a few months before your warranty ends so that you have time to do your research. It can be helpful to have some idea of what points you’ll need to consider.
Do your Research
If you are very satisfied with your current pump, it may be a no-brainer to simply continue to use the same product. But what if you think that there may be something else out there that you’d prefer over your current pump? You can do some research and learn about the various pump options.
The manufacturers all have promotional packets that you can obtain from the company or the local rep, or perhaps from your endocrinologist or diabetes educator. These packets give you detailed information about the pump and its features. Looking at these can be a great starting point from which you can make your own personal pro/con lists on each pump. If you have additional questions, a phone call to the company’s customer service line can be a useful way to gather additional information. It’s likely that you will quickly rule out several pumps and have just a few in mind that seem like they may be right for you.
Talk with Someone Using the Same Insulin Pump
Once you have narrowed your choices, you might want to talk to someone who is already using the pump to get their opinion of it. This can be done through online forums - or perhaps you can ask your endocrinologist’s office if they could put you in touch with another patient who would be willing to share their thoughts with you.
Ultimately you will have to decide which features are most important to you personally and which pump is the closest match to your needs. Many pumps can be returned within a certain time frame if they don’t provide what you expected; it’s best to ask about return policies prior to placing your order.
Things to Consider in an Insulin Pump
So which pump is the best fit for your needs? Which requirements are on your must-have list? Some points to consider are:
- Tubing-free vs. tubing
- Waterproof vs. not waterproof
- The look and feel of the pump - the aesthetics
- Integrated vs. separate blood glucose meter, as well as the accuracy of the meter
- How discreet is it to use the pump?
- Ease of use on a day-to-day basis (i.e. how many buttons need to be pushed to program a bolus, etc.)
- Ease of downloading and interpretation of data
- Dosing increments available
- The amount of insulin the reservoir holds
Because insulin pumps can be expensive and co-pays/deductibles usually need to be met, cost is often a consideration. If the out-of-pocket cost is high, it might make more sense to choose a pump with a smaller up-front cost and more pay-as-you-use components in order to spread out the cost.
Is there a really promising new technology on the horizon that you might want to hold out for? You will be under warranty for four years and you may want to be able to upgrade when something new comes out. Find out if you will be eligible to upgrade for a reduced fee when new iterations of the pump come out. Once you’ve made your decision, contact the pump company and start the process of ordering the new pump. Your endocrinologist’s office can help with this if you need assistance.
Clearly there are many pump options and many points to consider. But with a little planning and thought, you can make a decision that is right for you!
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Lisa Foster-McNulty, MSN, RN, CDE
Director of Patient Care and Education, Integrated Diabetes Services LLC
In many cases, developing diabetes leads one towards a career in diabetes education. For Lisa Foster-McNulty, the opposite occurred. Lisa became a diabetes educator in 1995 while working in home healthcare and achieved CDE certification in 1998. She went on to lead the Home Care Network’s Diabetes Educator Team in 2000, before taking on a management role with an outpatient diabetes management program in a Philadelphia-area hospital system. A few years later, Lisa discovered that she would need to apply her clinical skills on herself when she was diagnosed with diabetes. When she and her husband decided to have a baby, Lisa chose to go on an insulin pump. Soon afterwards she began using a continuous glucose monitor and has been doing so ever since. Since 2008, Lisa has served as Co-Chair of the Education Committee for her local affiliate of the American Association of Diabetes Educators.