The Asante Snap insulin pump is an impressive newcomer to the insulin pump market. After trying the pump for thirty days, I switched to it officially at the end of December. Here are the top ten features I like about the Asante Snap insulin pump, and why I like them:
1. Easy Auto-Priming
Whether you’re used to a slow priming device or a relatively quick one, you’ve never seen one quite as fast as the Asante Snap. As soon as you twist the cartridge cap on, insulin appears at the end of the introducer needle. The innovative cartridge cap that auto-primes the tubing also contains additional occlusion detection rather than relying solely on back pressure like other pumps.
2. A Flashlight
There is a small 15 second flashlight feature on this pump for visibility if you need to prime the tubing manually. It’s also extremely handy for finding your way to the bathroom in the dark or searching for lost objects under the couch.
3. 300 unit Capacity
The Asante Snap insulin pump uses 3mL glass pen cartridges (Humalog). Unlike some 300 unit pumps, you get about 314 on the Asante Snap – enough to prime your tubing and still have 300 solid in the cartridge. The glass cartridge means that your insulin never starts to lose viability from coming into contact with plastic the way it can in a traditional pump reservoir. As insulin is never being removed from a vial and displacing air in a reservoir, the propensity for air bubbles is greatly reduced, meaning that this is not a pump you’ll expect to see a lot of bubbles from.
Even with a full 3mL cartridge loaded, this pump feels impressively lightweight compared to my previous pumps. It’s as thin as its popular “slim” competitor, but a fraction of the weight. It’s the length of a Dexcom G4 receiver and nearly equal in weight (G4 weight = 66g/2.25oz vs Snap weight = 80g/2.75oz).
5. No Batteries
There are no batteries to change or charge with the Asante Snap insulin pump. The controller (the top piece with the buttons) houses a small back-up battery that is powered by the larger battery in each disposable snap-on pump body. A pump body lasts for up to one week – or however long it takes you to go through 300 units (for me, that’s 6 days of wear).
6. Fast Site Changes
The simplicity of components makes for very fast site changes – Asante’s most touted feature. Every 2-3 days of cartridge wear, you do of course change your infusion site, but not the tubing or pump body, so of course those changes are as fast as popping a new cannula in. At the end of the life of a pump body, however, when it’s time to change the other parts, the whole process takes less than 2 minutes. The low profile packaging (that makes your supplies easy to carry) is perforated, too, so it’s frustration free and could be done with one hand. Prep your site, insert a fresh cannula, open a new pump body, slide a new 3mL cartridge in, twist the cap, snap the pump body onto the controller, prime the cannula, and you’re done. I can do it in about a minute and a half.
7. IOB Calculation
It’s not just form, but also function, that matters in a smart pump and the Asante Snap delivers on several points. Knowing that customers and their medical teams have different preferences for how to calculate IOB – correction insulin only or all insulin (correction + meal) – Asante allows you in your pump setup menu to choose which method works for you.
8. Carb Calculator
One of the features I think all pumps should have is the ability to input carb counts and let the pump add them together. Arithmetic leaves too much room for user error. I am happy to see that Snap provides me a means to enter first carbs, second carbs, etc, when giving a Smart Bolus (that’s Snap-ese for “bolus wizard”).
9. Upgrade Options
Asante understands that customers get frustrated when they have to wait four years to have the newest technology. Their quick upgrade program allows you to upgrade to the newest version of their controller for just $99. This offer will exclude cosmetic trade-ins, but it will be honored when they make functionality improvements to the device. Anyone who has been through a messy upgrade with a pump company will appreciate that this is no small customer promise.
10. “We Are Not Waiting”
Most impressively perhaps is that Asante recently announced a partnership with the nonprofit Tidepool.org to pursue an open source platform for diabetes data. Rather than develop yet another proprietary piece of software that frustrates users and their healthcare teams alike, data will eventually go to the cloud so that we can use our own data in multiple platforms. “Imagine an app that uses your CGM data and the data from your Snap Insulin Pump to recommend a change to your typical breakfast that could better keep your morning BG in control,” says Asante CEO David Thrower in a blog post on their website.
So, given all of that, it’s important to talk about where the faults in the pump are.
1. Low Resolution Screen
The Asante Snap insulin pump has a less-than-sexy low resolution screen. It’s also quite small compared to competitors’ screens. The menus and soft keys make good use of the limited space and it is easy to read in direct sunlight, but anyone who has held a smartphone will certainly feel that low resolution is dated.
2. No Software
While we “wait” for the results of the #WeAreNotWaiting movement, there is not currently any way to upload your data and review it with your healthcare team. Eventually, we’ll see programs like Diasend that are popular in diagnostic settings have access to this data, but in the meantime, it’s frustrating for my CDE.
3. Humalog Only
Humalog and Novolog cartridges differ slightly in length and diameter. Because the pump bodies are designed to the specifications of a Humalog 3mL cartridge, Novolog cartridges cannot yet be used in the Snap pump. Asante has vocalized intentions to create a separate pump body for Novolog users to accommodate the size and shape of a Novolog 3mL vial.
The current accessory line for Snap is lackluster. There is a leather belt holster reminiscent of a utility tool holster or leather phone holster and a hard swivel clip. (I prefer to wear mine in a Tallygear protective Dexcom G4 case, currently.)
This is a little pump with a lot of potential. I have been enjoying my time on it and am impressed with the company’s philosophy – a promise to make life simpler for people with diabetes and their loved ones. So far, my family is pleased with the simplicity.
Melissa Lee writes the blog Sweetly Voiced.
Photos by Melissa Lee