Treatment

7 Steps to Take Before Starting Insulin Pump Therapy

Integrated Diabetes Services (IDS) provides detailed advice and coaching on diabetes management from certified diabetes educators and dieticians. Insulin Nation hosts a regular Q&A column from IDS that answers questions submitted from the Type 1 diabetes community.

So, you’ve made a decision to give insulin pump therapy a try. Here are the steps to take before you get connected.

1. Gather information. Pump manufacturers put out great information packets. You can get this info from your endocrinologist, local pump representative, or through the pump company’s website. If you find you have questions not answered, call the company’s customer service line.

2. Make your wish-list. There will always be pros and cons to each pump, but narrowing it down to one pump that has the most pros for your life will be the best option. Decide what features are on your must-have list.

Here are some features to consider:

  • Dosing increments on the pump
  • Pump design – for aesthetics and ease of use
  • Size of reservoir
  • How discretely you can operate the pump
  • Ease of use on a day-to-day basis
  • Waterproof vs. not waterproof
  • Ease by which you can download and interpret data
  • Integrated or separate continuous glucose monitor

This initial fact-finding step will help you rule out several pumps and choose a few that seem like they might be a good fit for you. You can also check out http://integrateddiabetes.com/insulin-pump-comparisons/ – we have a helpful list of pump pros and cons.

3. Crowdsource. After you have narrowed your choices, talk to someone who is already using the pumps on your short list. You might do this through an online forum, or ask your endocrinologist’s office to be put in touch with patients who might be willing to share their thoughts.

4. Figure out the costs. Check with insurance to assess if there is a preferred pump on the formulary, and figure out your out-of-pocket expenses. The pump company can investigate the answers to these questions for you prior to placing an order, so you can avoid unpleasant surprises. (Sadly, because of cost, many people with diabetes only get one choice for brand of pump – the one the insurance company prefers.)

5. Think about upgrades. Pump technology is changing rapidly, and you might want to switch pumps sooner rather than later. If you are using that company’s current pump and a new one comes out that you want, you might be eligible to upgrade to the new product for a reduced fee. Ask the pump company what their upgrade policy is.

6. Go to checkout. After you’ve made your decision, contact the manufacturer and start the ordering process. There will be paperwork that your endocrinologist needs to fill out, as well as forms you’ll need to complete for insurance coverage.

7. Tune up your diabetes knowledge. Insulin pumps make some aspects of diabetes care easier, but pump therapy also comes with challenges. You can lower your risk of issues by studying up on diabetes self-care information, learning as much as you can about pump therapy, and making a plan to communicate with your healthcare team the days after you start pump therapy.

This may seem like a lot of work for something that is supposed to make your life easier, but forethought and planning will greatly increase your chances of a successful transition to pump therapy.

Integrated Diabetes Services provides one-on-one education and glucose regulation for people who use insulin. Diabetes “coaching” services are available in-person and remotely via phone and online for children and adults. Integrated Diabetes Services offers specialized services for insulin pump and continuous glucose monitor users, athletes, pregnancy & Type 1 diabetes, and those with Type 2 diabetes who require insulin. For more information, call 1-610-642-6055, go to integrateddiabetes.com or write info@integrateddiabetes.com.

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Have Type 2 diabetes or know someone who does? Try Type 2 Nation, our sister publication.

Jennifer Smith holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Human Nutrition and Biology from the University of Wisconsin. She is a registered and licensed dietitian, certified diabetes educator, and certified trainer on most makes/models of insulin pumps and continuous glucose monitoring systems. She has lived with Type 1 diabetes since she was a child,and thus has first-hand knowledge of the day-to-day events that affect diabetes management.

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