Insulin Pump Comparison: Which Pump is Right for You?

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Insulin Pump Comparison

With the announcement of Animas Vibe’s FDA approval in the United States and last week’s first shipments of Asante’s new MySnap reaching customers who designed the company’s first customizable pumps (myself included), it’s the perfect time for an insulin pump comparison.  Which pump should you be using in 2015?

I’ve been using an insulin pump since the year 2000 and in those 14 years, have used 10 different pump models from five different pump companies. I consider myself a discerning and skeptical customer. When I approach a pump, I want its rep to be able to explain features beyond the company’s marketing talking points. Yes, it’s tubeless, but how’s the user interface? Okay, so site changes are quick, but what advanced pumping features does it include? Integrated CGM, but what’s it like to press the buttons and program a bolus? I want to know how fast it scrolls, how large a pack mule I’ll need for the supplies, and where they’ve buried the IOB.

Each of the six companies listed below is working hard to provide people with diabetes with innovative devices for pumping insulin. Which you prefer depends on which features matter to you; one man’s pro is another man’s con. We are incredibly fortunate to have choices when shopping for a device we’ll depend on for the next four to five years. I encourage you to explore the offerings below.

Insulin Pump Comparison:

 

Animas Vibe

Animas Vibe

Features:

  • Reservoir size: 200u
  • IPX rating: Fully watertight IPX8, company calls it “waterproof” up to 12 feet for 24 hours
  • Integrated with Dexcom G4 Platinum CGM (on screen)
  • Bright body color choices
  • High-contrast color screen
  • Infusion Sets: Accepts any luer lock infusion set
  • Accepts all fast-acting U-100 insulins
  • Meter: use with any meter
  • Software: Uploads to Diasend
  • Power: 1 AA battery
  • Audio: Personalized audio alerts (vibrate, create your own tune, etc). Non-adjustable safety alert set at 55 mg/dL

 

Additional Specs:

  • Weight: 3.70oz
  • Basal increments: .025u
  • Max Basal Limit: 10u/hr
  • Max Bolus: 35u
  • Minimum bolus increment: .05u
  • Max Hourly Delivery Limit: 50u over 2-Hour Period
  • Duration of Insulin Action Increment: 30min
  • Max Number of Basal Profiles/Segments: 4 Profiles/12 Segments each

Changes from Previous Model:

vs Animas Ping

  • Integrated with Dexcom G4
  • No longer have to dial up to the dose from the bolus calculator
  • No remote
  • No linked meter (meter agnostic)
  • Navigational changes to Menu structure

 

Considerations:

  • Not compatible with Dexcom G4 505 software upgrade
  • Not compatible with future Dexcom pipeline (G5, etc)
  • Pump does not act on data from CGM reading, does not have Low Glucose Suspend
  • 200u only
  • Not yet approved for pediatric use in the US
  • Meter agnostic, but not CGM agnostic – must be used with Dexcom G4 sensors
  • A number of users report that the speed of bolus delivery is too fast and therefore uncomfortable

 

Pros: Integrated Dexcom CGM, Waterproof, Proven company.

Cons: Loss of remote from previous model. Incompatibility with latest and future Dexcom updates.

Takeaway: Exciting and long-awaited new offering from reliable pump company. Wish US would have had access in 2011 when the technology was new and more relevant.


Medtronic 530g w/ Enlite

Medtronic 530G with Enlite

 Features:

  • Reservoir size: 300u or 180u reservoir models, accepts all fast-acting U-100 insulins
  • IPX7 Rating – accidental dunk proof
  • Integrated sensor technology with Medtronic’s Enlite sensor
  • Low Glucose Suspend feature suspends basal in response to low blood sugar
  • Meter: Pairs with Bayer CONTOUR NEXT LINK rechargeable meter
  • Software: Easy upload to web-based Carelink program
  • Audio: Silent option for discreet bolusing
  • Power: 1 AAA alkaline Energizer battery

 

 Additional Specs:

  • Weight of 300u model: 3.66oz. Weight of 180u model: 3.35u
  • Basal increments:  0.025u for basal amounts in the range of 0.025 to 0.975u, 0.05u for basal amounts in the range of 1 to 9.95u, 0.1u for basal amounts of 10.0u or larger
  • Max Basal Limit: 35u
  • Minimum bolus increment:  0.025u for bolus amounts in the range of 0.025 to 0.975u, 0.05u for bolus amounts larger than 0.975u
  • Max Bolus: 25u
  • Duration of Insulin Action Increment: 1 hour
  • Max Number of Basal Profiles/Segments: 3 Profiles/ 48 Segments each

 

Changes from Previous Model:

vs Medtronic Revel

  • Features Low Glucose Suspend
  • Enlite sensor technology
  • Green colored accent for Activate button

 

Considerations:

  • Proprietary infusion sets
  • Duration of Insulin Action in hour increments rather than half hour
  • Low resolution screen
  • Must be purchased as a system. Very difficult to purchase 530G pump without Enlite.
  • A number of users report less than desirable accuracy of Enlite CGMS and awkward insertion device
  • A number of users report alarms as difficult to hear overnight

 

Pros: Integrated Enlite CGM with Low Glucose Suspend puts it on the pathway toward Artificial Pancreas. Proven company. Proven pump.

Cons: CGM accuracy.

Takeaway: If you have loved the Medtronic pump for the last two decades, you’ll love and recognize this pump. LGS is a great feature when it works and if you trust their CGM.


Tandem t:slim

 

Tandem t:slim

 

Features:

  • Reservoir size: 300u cartridge before tubing fill
  • IPX7 rating: accidental dunk proof
  • Bright, colorful, touchscreen interface on shatter-resistant glass
  • Easily see matrix of all settings by time segment
  • Carb calculator for multiple carb serving input
  • IOB on home screen with time remaining
  • Site reminder for infusion set changes
  • Infusion Sets: Accepts any luer lock infusion set
  • Meter: Can be used with any meter, but ships with One Touch Verio IQ meter (does not pair)
  • Software: Uploads to Diasend and Web-based t:connect software
  • Audio: Silent options for discreet bolusing
  • Power: Powered by rechargeable lithium polymer battery via included microUSB cable – can be charged from outlet, car charger, or computer and full charge lasts up to 1 week

 

 Additional Specs:

  • Weight (full): 3.95oz (heaviest pump)
  • Basal increments: 0.001u at programed rates equal to or greater than 0.10u
  • Max Basal Limit: 15u
  • Minimum bolus increment: 0.01u at volumes greater than 0.05u
  • Max Bolus: 25u
  • Duration of Insulin Action Increment: 1min
  • Max Number of Basal Profiles/Segments: 6 Profiles/16 Segments each

Changes from Previous Model:

N/A

 

Considerations:

  • Aluminum casing means metal detector sensitivity
  • Many confirmation screens
  • Time-consuming fill process
  • Not compatible with Apidra
  • Opacity means limited visibility within cartrdige
  • No reverse correction
  • A number of users report problems with air bubbles in the luer lock
  • A number of users report alarms as difficult to hear overnight

 

Pros: Modern touchscreen interface. Features easy to view and access.

Cons: Touchscreen means more room for user input error despite many confirmation screens. Heavy. Air bubbles a frequent issue. First gen product and new company. Site changes take a lot of time.

Takeaway: A slick, beautiful pump with nice accessories. Will appeal to smartphone users.

 


 

Accu-Chek Combo

Accu-Chek Combo

Features:

  • Reservoir size: 315u
  • Same IPX8 rating as Animas and Insulet, but they choose to refer to it as “Watertight”
  • Meter: Bluetooth linked Accu-Chek Aviva Combo meter/pump remote with full pump programming
  • Bright color meter screen
  • Infusion sets: Accepts any luer lock infusion set
  • Site change reminder
  • Software: Uploads to Diasend
  • Power: 1 AA battery, accepts non-lithium as well as lithium batteries

 

Additional Specs:

  • Extremely lightweight (empty): 2.8oz
  • Basal increments: 0.01u for basal amounts in the range of 0.05 to 1.00u, 0.05u for basal amounts in the range of 1 to 10u, 0.1u for basal amounts in the range of 10.0 to 25.0u
  • Max Basal Limit: 25u
  • Max Bolus: 25u
  • Minimum Bolus Increment: .1u
  • Duration of Insulin Action Increment: 15min
  • Max Number of Basal Profiles/Segments: 5 Profiles/24 Segments each

 

Changes from Previous Model:

vs Accu-Chek Spirit

  • Bluetooth linked meter serves as fully featured pump remote
  • Color now a more discreet black
  • Full color on-screen graphs on meter

 

Considerations:

  • Low-resolution screen
  • Smallest screen on pump market
  • Must use linked meter to program boluses using the bolus calculator algorithm
  • May only link 1 meter per pump
  • Have to program all 24 basal segments
  • Cartridge changes require stopping pump and awkward button press
  • No native clip, must use case

 

Pros: Easy bolusing from meter, Proven company.

Cons: Human factor issues (tiny screen, reliance on meter to use advanced features, difficult cartridge changes).

Takeaway: Solid, reliable pump. Awkward implementation.


Asante MySnap

 

 

Asante Snap

Features:

  • Reservoir size: 300u+ pre-filled Humalog cartridges mean 14 fewer steps to set changes and up to a week’s worth of wear
  • IPX5 rating: splashproof, should not be submerged
  • Company philosophy includes 30-day free trial and $99 upgrades
  • Low upfront cost
  • Pump bodies and tubing changed out with each new cartridge for up to 7 days of wear (with cannula changes every 2-3 days)
  • Auto-priming of tubing
  • Super fast set changes with few steps
  • Low incidence of air bubbles due to pre-filled cartridges
  • Fast access to bolus calculator w/ 1 button press
  • Carb calculator for multiple carb serving input
  • Option to return disposables for recycling
  • Infusion Sets: specially designed cartridge caps include occlusion detection
  • User-defined setting of whether to calculate IOB as correction only vs meal + correction
  • Fast new setup with settings stored in pump bodies (insert old body and all settings applied to new controller)
  • Alerts to disruptions from a dropped or wet pump body or leaking cartridge
  • Temp Basal History

 

Additional Specs:

  • Extremely lightweight: 2.9oz
  • Basal increments: .05u
  • Max Basal Limit: 4u
  • Minimum bolus increment: .05u
  • Max Bolus: 25u
  • Duration of Insulin Action Increment: 15min
  • Max Number of Basal Profiles/Segments: 4 Profiles/10 Segments each

 

Changes from Previous Model:

vs original Snap (1.0)

  • New high resolution color screen replaces original Snap’s low-res screen
  • Customizable colors and accents for faceplate, frame, and buttons
  • IOB visible on home screen
  • Faster scrolling
  • Longer flashlight timeout
  • On-screen color customization for highlighting menu choices
  • Option for Quick 1-button access to Temp Basal for lefthand button

 

Considerations:

 

  • Humalog only
  • No patient upload software, currently has clinical Diasend support only
  • Righthand 1-button access button can be either bolus calculator or audio bolus, but user must choose which
  • No vibrate-only option for discreet bolus delivery
  • Not waterproof, IPX7 rating for splashproof
  • Meter and CGM agnostic – not integrated or paired
  • Proprietary infusion sets due to specially designed cartridge cap
  • No missed meal bolus alerts or pre-set temp basal rates
  • Longest length pump on market
  • Disposable pumps not available to Medicare/Medicaid
  • Disposables must be returned to company for recycling for small fee
  • No native clip, accessories lacking

 

Pros: Feature rich pump in customizable color. Free 30-day trial and $99 upgrades. Very fast set changes.

Cons: No integration with meter/CGM. No patient software yet. Not waterproof. New company to market.

Takeaway: Definitely worth saving this new kid a seat at the lunch table. Company is patient-centered and pump is reliable and simple to operate.

 


 

Insulet Omnipod (UST400)

 

Insulet Omnipod (UST400)

 

Features:

  • Reservoir size: 200u
  • IPX8 rating: Pod portion is fully waterproof, PDM is not
  • Low upfront cost
  • Tubeless
  • Auto-cannula insertion
  • Bright color screen on PDM
  • Food library
  • Accepts all fast-acting U-100 insulins
  • Temp basal and carb bolus presets for frequently used inputs
  • Option to return disposables for recycling
  • Reverse correction for bolusing when BG is below 70
  • Meter: Integrated Freestyle meter in PDM (Personal Diabetes Manager)
  • Software: Uploads to Diasend and CoPilot software
  • Audio: Silent options for discreet BG testing and bolusing
  • Power: PDM powered by 2 AAA batteries, Pod powered by 3 357 cell batteries that do not need to be replaced

 

Additional Specs:

  • Pod weight (empty): .88oz, PDM weight: 4.4oz
  • Basal increments: .05u
  • Max Basal Limit: 30u/hr
  • Minimum bolus increment: .05u
  • Max Bolus: 30u
  • Duration of Insulin Action Increment: 30min
  • Max Number of Basal Profiles/Segments: 7 Profiles/ 24 Segments each

 

Changes from Previous Model:

vs Omnipod UST200

  • Slimmer pods
  • Black PDM replaces blue
  • Additional confirmation screens
  • Personalization screen with user-defined color and user’s name
  • IOB visible on  home screen

Considerations:

  • 200u capacity
  • 80 hour expiration
  • 80 unit fill minimum
  • Potential wasted insulin if following protocol of disposing of failed pod without withdrawing unused insulin
  • Basal does not resume after suspend duration unless reactivated by User. User should choose Temp Basal “Off” for short term suspension.
  • A number of users report high Pod Error and Occlusion rates
  • Disposable pumps not available to Medicare/Medicaid
  • Disposables must be returned to company for recycling for small fee
  • If PDM lost or forgotten, pump delivers basal program but no bolus functions available

 

Pros: Tubeless. Waterproof.

Cons: High alarm/failure rate.

Takeaway: As the only tubeless option on the market, it’s just right for users wary of tubing. When it works, it works great. When it doesn’t, it can be a frustrating user experience.


Melissa Lee writes the blog Sweetly Voiced.

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Comments (16)

  1. My daughter uses the Omnipod and loves it. At first there were a lot of failures, but for the past 6-8 months things have been great–maybe one failure (of course, I’m jinxing myself). I’m not sure if that’s because we’re better at getting the air bubbles out, or if Omnipod has worked some kinks out of the system.

  2. max at

    I have also experienced a massive decrease in pod failures during the past 6 months compared to my first few years using the pod.

    I don’t like the way this is put: “Potential wasted insulin if following protocol of disposing of failed pod without withdrawing unused insulin.” Do not take insulin out of a pod that has expired. Insulin that has sat adjacent to your natural body temp of 98 degrees is very likely to have denatured, meaning that the insulin has broken down and no longer works. In my eyes, it is incredibly irresponsible to even suggest that a user violate this protocol. It is in place for a reason.

  3. Eric at

    i have been on the Omnipod since 2007. I love it. I have had a total of 2 pod errors since November. I would highly recommend the Omnipod. It’s changed my life for the better.

  4. Ian at

    Bravo, Melissa! What an incredibly thorough resource.

  5. Recrews@yahoo.com at

    Great review as a PA getting a patient view and comparison is extremely helpful since we have to know about all the equipment our patients. It’s good to get the CONS and practical aspects.

  6. patrick at

    I just turned in my new T-Slim pump. It sounded wonderful and I had been saving for a new pump & a Dexcom G4 all last year. My past pump was a Medtronic 530 w/CGM (and is again, sans CGM).
    The Medtronic broke 4 times leaving me stranded more times than I’d like. The CGM is more an average of the past 3 hours than anything useful to act on.
    The Dexoom G4- WOW! Wish I had one of these in 1980 when I was diagnosed! This is light years ahead of anything out there, including the enlite.
    The T-slim was a big disappointment. Here is my letter when I requested a return:

    I am sorry to say I have initiated a return for the pump. I cannot be under risk of pump failure again. I have had that issue over and over with Medtronic.
    The T-slim is an exciting step forward for insulin pumps. I like the potential for this pump to impact all future pumps, but for me it just isn’t robust and user friendly enough yet. I am very active and need a reliable piece of equipment. Here are the contributing factors to my decision:
    • Button failure on the one button that controls the pump access during the first week of ownership, and after I had walked over an hour to work with temperatures in the teens. I needed to drop my basal rate, but couldn’t.
    • While the touchscreen is a wonderful improvement, the touch areas are way too small (or perhaps inaccurate with no way to recalibrate) for me to use. I regularly touch the wrong button end up with the screen timeout. The good thing is that it comes back to the same screen when I get back in.
    • Tubing refill and bubbles in the luer lock are extremely irritating and use excessive amounts of insulin. It is extremely time consuming and requires too much precision.
    • Refilling an injection site takes two or three fills; way too time consuming.
    • constant occlusions
    • Correction to my target of 110 mg/dl is irritating. I can’t put in a carbohydrate correction unless I fudge my numbers when I am at 75 and need to take some carbs. Otherwise, I have to eat without recording and must do my own mental calculation. My doctor and I use all of this information to improve my care.
    • Other lesser irritants that simply add to the problem are:
    o The inability to use military time
    o Inability to upload and merge numbers from my CGM data seamlessly
    o Will not change the default from 2 hours on extended bolus without me changing it every time
    o The case is nice, but I have to disconnect to route the cable through the slot and the button is inaccessible when I mount it to keep the luer pointing down. Otherwise, it constantly pokes me in the side. A decent engineering analysis would have had them put a button slot on both sides of the case symmetrically so the luer exit could be accessed from both ends. Also, a thin slot could have been made at the luer exit point to route the cable.

  7. Bernie at

    I had Metronic pumps for years. I found it very difficult to deal with metronic. Customer service was terrible. But the pump was reliable and sturdy. I switched to a t-slim. The pump is very nice. It is small and the screens are easy to use. But it is very temprimental. I am calling customer service regularly. One week it’s a bad cartridge. Another week the pump is not registering the loaded insulin. And the end result is that the pump wastes insulin by either leaking it from the cartridge or because loads have to be repeated. I cannot recommend this pump. Maybe metronic can get its act together.

  8. Alice at

    Would be EXCELLENT to also read potential problems with each Pump, Customer Service for each pump, etc.
    Thanks.

  9. David Sidener at

    Thank you for this comparison page. This was very helpful in considering what to replace my Medtronic 723 with. I was considering the T-Slim and the Vibe but am going to stick with Medtronic. Incidentally, I have only had very positive interactions with their customer service. Had to get replacement pumps 3x and had them in hand by 10 a.m. the next day each time. There are things that should be upgraded (the screen!) and I hope the enlite CGM is better than the previous system which I found to be worthless. But, my pump(s) kept on pumpin’ for the last 4 years, I got great help from customer service and I can still feel lows so I’m not yet dependent on an effective CGMS. Great page – thanks again.

  10. Thanks for finally talking about >Insulin Pump
    Comparison: Which Pump is Right for You? <Loved it!

  11. Brent at

    I have used Medtronic for over 8 years. I am very unhappy with customer support, supply ordering follow-through, and the pump itself. While I was an early adopter, and Medtronic led the pack, they are not sensitive to the evolution in the customers and market needs. My first pump was fairly reliable, but the CGM algorithms and devices were very brittle. The CGM algorithm was very finicky and was incorrect more often than not. I started to abandon use, as I kept having to replace sensors way ahead of time.

    Tried to shift to a new pump. Learned that for one of Warranty services, they actually charged my insurance company for a new pump and sent me Revel. Software update helped the CGM accuracy somewhat, but still does not stay attached well and becomes inaccurate too easily.

    When I complained about the pump replacement problem, they gave me run around. Said I signed for approval to order, but could not produce signature. Was unable to get new pump with insurance for over 3 years.

    Ordering supplies was horrible when done out of their CA offices. They outsourced to a company in Austin…huge positive changes to start. Within a year, they lacked follow-through on orders. You would call in, or submit through the web site and wait for weeks for action. God forbid you need something fast.

    Anxious to try something new. I like the integrated pump and CGM, and wanted Animas G4, but Animas already on go G5…great mobile device interoperability, but only on Apple, desperately wish they had Android…

  12. My husband is diagnosed T2 Diabetes and he is in marketing field, so he has been prescribed to take Healthgenie Insulin Travel Wallet. So, I need to know if this product is good or it has any pros and cons.

  13. Ryan at

    I have been with Medtronic since I started my pump therapy almost 16 years ago and stick with them because they are the front runners in this market. I don’t need a fancy looking screen if that is a hold up for you. It needs to receive blood sugar readings from the sensor, give insulin, and make my life a little easier and it does just that. I don’t have an issue with tubes either and can always find a place to put it with what I’m wearing, it’s a nice small size overall but with a big enough screen. CGM accuracy can sometimes be finicky but so is this disease. Not once have I called into customer service and had an issue, not once over 16 years. I’m not sure how others have gotten a negative response from CS. If I had an issue, needed a replacement shipped over night, placing an order, asking for a discount on my bill, getting warranty accessories replaced for free, maybe I just talk really nice to them and they appreciate that. That’s my .02

  14. Dmc at

    Don’t buy a Tslim pump whatever u do!!! My blood sugars are through the roof all the time with this piece if junk and it should not be on the market. Constant occlusions will make u want to throw it across the room. Don’t buy one!!!

  15. Helen at

    I have an Animas Ping. It is my first pump after years of injecting and as I live in the UK it is funded entirely by our National Health Service (good) which means I have no choice of pump (bad).
    I am small and slim and not used to carrying around something attached to my body at all times so I hate (yes, a strong word but it is how I feel) the lump in my clothing at all times. Some women manage to hide their pump in their bra but I do not have enough room. I am also very sensitive to insulin (I used small doses) and the stickiness on the canula. This means I only use about 100 units between each change.
    The reason for all this preamble is to ask if anyone knows of a smaller pump. Looking at the dimensions, the smallest option you mention is the OmniPod but it is not very much smaller than the Animas considering the controller is separate.

  16. Pat at

    I have been using minimed pump since the 90s before they were merged with medtronic. I have gone through several upgrades and stayed with the company for 20 years. Their customer service is excellent. I have NEVER had a problem with their customer service. They are really great with online trouble-shooting and dealing with insurances. Reordering supplies is easy too. I had an insurance for a short time (few months)that required I order my pump supplies elsewhere. I hated it. It was horrible. They took forever it seemed to fill my order, leaving me with no supplies. And they did not seem to even care. Medtronic Minimed helped me by sending some emergency supplies to last until I could get my supplies from the other company. I am so happy to be back with Medtronic Minimed again. I am also convinced they have the best pump for me after reading the descriptions and comparisons and comments on this website. It is about time for a new pump and intend to stick with Medtronic Minimed.

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