When to Upgrade Your Insulin Pump

Kim Benjet Health Guide
  • Am I stuck with what I buy today or will companies upgrade?

    When we got Josh’s insulin pump two years ago this month, the general rule with insurance and pump companies was the insulin pump you buy today will be your pump for four years (excluding any malfunctions, then the pump can be replaced). After four years you could upgrade or switch to an entirely new insulin pump company.  However the fast pace of innovation has started to change the rules as pump companies aim to get upgrades into the hands of users as well as to sell their current pumps with the promise of access to future upgrades.  If you buy a pump today you need to ask about how the company foresees getting upgrades into your hands over the next four years.

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    Through March 31, 2007, Smith Medical’s Deltec Cozmo offered a free 2006 software upgrade to its Cozmo Pump, attached glucose meter and computer software (the “CozMore System”).  One new feature I’m very excited about is the “HypoManager Feature,” when there is a low blood sugar a calculation on the pump will recommend the number of carbohydrates needed to cover the low blood sugar.  It’s the almost the opposite of the correction bolus (the true opposite is taking insulin away but we can’t do that).  This low blood sugar recommendation will calculate the number of carbohydrates needed to bring the person into a normal range while accounting for insulin on board/active insulin.  Why is this exciting?  It takes away some of the guess work. For instance if my son goes out and plays a very active game of football at recess immediately after lunch and then drops to 60 only one hour after lunch there is lots of insulin still working on the lunch food.  The standard treatment of 15 grams of carbohydrates isn’t enough to bring him back up and keep him at 100.  So now the pump will calculate how much he needs to reach a safe 100 and how much he needs to cover the insulin left over from lunch. 

    Another new feature is the ability to include the carb counts of set foods – it’s “Enhanced Meal Maker”.  Animas’ IR 1250 CarbSmart feature has been doing this for awhile and now a similar feature will be available with the Cozmo.  Check the Smith Medical website for details about upgrading.  March 31, 2007 was the deadline to receive the 2006 upgrades, but I understand that there is a wait to get the upgraded pump. To see a handy chart about the upgrades click here.  Note that this upgraded computer software (CozManager 2.0) is not compatible with the new Windows Vista.  I’ve been assured that Smith Medical is working on this but they have no date for release of Vista compatible software. 

    One of the most exciting upgrade programs is Medtronic’s Pathways Program which will permit a current Minimed Paradigm pump user to upgrade to the new Paradigm Real Time (RT), the pump and continuous glucose monitor system (CGMS) that sends blood sugar readings directly to the pump. It is not a closed loop yet (the decision making about what to do with the readings is still done manually). However it’s an exciting new technology.  The amazing benefit is the ability to see the trending – which way is the blood sugar going (i.e. Is that 200 after lunch just going to go higher or is it already on the way down?) The graphical illustration of blood sugar is shown right on the pump screen.  The drawback to the system is that you will have to wear two “sites” – one the pump infusion site and the other for the blood glucose readings.  Two sites are too much to ask of my thin son’s body, but we look forward to further integration of the technology.  Check out the pictures of the new “MiniLink” CGMS that is the size of a quarter!    With progress in mind, Medtronic is offering an upgrade component that leaves the door open for Minimed Paradigm owners to benefit from future upgrades. Click here for a full explanation of the Medtronic Paradigm Pathway Program.  There is a cost to upgrade and currently CGMS is not covered by insurance.  According to the website the MiniLink starter kit costs $999.

  • Animas was acquired by Johnson and Johnson in February 2006. In late March 2007, Animas introduced its newest pump the IR 2020.  The easy to read screen is one of the key features.  Animas continues to set itself apart from other pumps by offering the smallest possible basel rate, .025.  And, like the Cozmo pump, the 2020 is waterproof.  Check out www.animascorp.com to see the IR2020.  I was unclear if the IR 2020 will be a part of Animas’ ezAccess Upgrade program.  This upgrade from 2005 focused on upgrading the IR1200 with features from the IR1250.  The IR1250 introduced the CarbSmart feature – the capacity to enter an entire food database with carbohydrate counts directly into the pump.

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    Insulet’s Omnipod is one of the most unique pumps because it does not have the dreaded tubing. Instead the infusion site is replaced with a small insulin holding “pod” that is then operated remotely by a handheld device.  The Omnipod webpage answers lots of questions about how this unique pump works, but I didn’t see any information about how upgrades of future innovations will be handled.  If you go with the Omnipod, make sure to ask!

    I’d be curious to here from any readers who have upgraded from their original pump.  Was the process easy, costly, timely?



Published On: April 17, 2007