Clearly the new, smaller OmniPod is... new and smaller.
But is it different, better and will your BGs magically be perfect when you use it? Most importantly... is it still the OmniPod that you know and love? What follows are my unfiltered initial thoughts about the new OmniPod system. This blog is not a complete rundown of every change and feature, today I'm writing about the stuff that jumped out at me after using the new OmniPod for about a month. Arden has recently completed the first box of ten pods and I feel ready to share my thoughts on that experience. Okay, are you ready? Are you excited, nervous, wrought with fear? No need, it's pretty much the same OmniPod, just smaller, newer and with a few changes that I think are worth talking about.
In my opinion, size doesn't matter as much as footprint. Insulet has said in the past that the new OmniPod is, "Approximately 1/3 smaller than the current pod". That sounds impressive, and it is, but what does it mean and are the measurements as important as the overall experience for the wearer? Let's take a look...
You can see in the images above that the new pod is smaller in dimension, though the numbers suggest not by much. That reduction, however seemingly insignificant, has created a footprint that changes the way the OmniPod interacts with even the smallest body and that is in my opinion, what is so exciting about the new pod.
Our first month with the new pods has shown me that the reduced footprint brings:
Less drag - During activity or motion, the pod doesn't pull when your body changes directions in the same way that the old pod did.
More site possibilities - Small or lean people can sometimes have trouble finding locations on themselves that don't present challenges. The new pod creates more sites for those people. One example is that Arden can now wear the pod on her lower back, a site that wasn't available to her with the first generation pod because of it's larger footprint.
Less noticeable - The reduction in overall size and height creates more opportunity for the pod to match up with your body's natural contours. The reduction in size has created a device that is one step closer to being a seamless part of the wearer. It may take years before a pump exists that the wearer can't feel, but this is definitely a positive step in that direction.
Smaller means lighter - Not 1/3 lighter but there is a noticeable difference when you hold the two in your hand.
Easier to hide under clothing - You know, cause it's smaller.
It's cuter - What, it is!
PDM (Personal Diabetes Manager)
One day last year Arden's 1st gen pod experienced an error about four minutes before her bus was about to pull up to our home and I was able to change that pod without Arden missing her bus. How could I do it so fast? Muscle memory. I was at the point where I didn't need to look at the buttons during the insertion process, I'd done it so many times over the years that it was like typing. I had no need to look at the keys or even pay complete attention to what I was doing because I'd done it so many times before.
With the new system I find myself looking down at the PDM and perhaps that's not a bad thing. There are a few new screens and some redundancies that are meant to add safety. I can see how they were needed and I don't imagine that it will take users of the previous PDM very long to learn them. New users shouldn't be bothered greatly by the differences because none of the new screens are ridiculously unneeded or difficult to maneuver. It's my understanding that some changes were deemed necessary by the FDA so, like them or not, they are here to stay. Here are two examples of new screens:
If you look at the image below you will see that the new PDM requires that you confirm who you are before beginning. If you look closely you'll see that the "Confirm" button even changes positions each time that the PDM comes online. This may not be a safety issue for most people but in households with multiple people using an OmniPod, it's a big deal. You don't want to bolus the wrong person, a problem that is increasingly more possible with the new PDM's stronger signal range. Temp basal adjustments now require an extra step but the process removes the confusion that some experienced in the past by asking you up front if you want to increase or decrease the basal rate. Bonus, you are now informed of when the temp basal will begin and end on the final temp basal screen (I like that feature).
Signal strength - So this is a feature that I think may only matter to caregivers of people who use the OmniPod. I don't imagine many adults are being bolused by another person, so signal distance probably isn't an issue for them. Having said that, the signal distance is greatly improved. In fact the distance is a vast improvement over the first generation PDM and it even works through some walls and floors (Though not as well as the DexCom G4). Take note that the PDM can still have an issue finding the pod at close range if your body is shielding the pod. Overall, the improvement is amazing... if you don't believe me you can check out this video that I recorded and see for yourself.
Nuts and Bolts and Stuff that went wrong.
We've had three pod failures during the first box and I'll admit that I was worried for a few minutes but it's been smooth sailing since then. Coincidence? Early product issues? I don't know. What I do know is that Arden has been using the OmniPod for a very long time and we've maybe had, I'm guessing, twenty that have needed to be replaced in four years. The strangest part about OmniPod errors is that they come (At least in this house) in bunches. We can go six months without one and then have three in a month. It's difficult at times not to look into things too deeply when that happens but in the end, it always seems more like a fluke to me than anything else. Plus, other pumps have their own issues that OmniPod doesn't, so I take the spectacularly good with the bad.
Here's where I love OmniPod and the recyclable nature of the pump. I bet that we've all experienced an error that sometimes requires us to send the pod back to Insulet for inspection. Those pods help the company to learn why errors are happening and when they have their answers, they are able to make adjustments to future production runs that eliminate the issue. In short, OmniPod is able to upgrade their pump without having to replace each users device and that only benefits the consumer.
So, does it suck when three out of ten pods fail, it does. Did I get pissed when that happened, I did. Did Arden complain about having to change her pod three times in five days, you better believe it. Do I have more than a reasonable expectation that this won't be the situation for every box we receive, absolutely. Am I hopeful that six months from now the issue we experienced will be eradicated, I am.
Apparently filling a new pod with more than 200 units of insulin can cause an error. Be on the lookout for a communication from Insulet about that soon. In the meantime, don't fill your pods with more than 200 units.
The syringe that fills the pod has a much short needle than previously.
The cannula is blue now so you can see it easier after it has deployed.
The PDM reminds you to test after a new pod has been placed.
There's a little window on top of the new pod that turns pink when the cannula has been properly inserted.
The cannula now enters at a different angle, Arden doesn't notice the difference and insulin delivery is unchanged.
Insulet Customer support has been overwhelmed of late making it nearly impossible for customers to get their calls through. I've had trouble and I know from watching online conversations that so have most of you. The other day however, on August 31st, a CSR picked up my call on the first ring. That experience led me to wonder if Insulet was perhaps getting a handle on the problem, so I reached out to the company and asked if they would like to make a statement here on Arden's Day about the recent trouble they've had answering the phone.
With regards to customers calling for service, we realize that we haven't lived up to our usual standards lately, and we apologize sincerely to anyone who's experienced this first hand. We can assure you that it is our foremost priority to get back to our usual high standards of service. Our customer support teams have worked around the clock to respond to all inquiries in a timely manner, and in response we've done our best to expand the teams to match the high demand. As we've ramped up, and as we're getting closer to having converted all of our OmniPod wearers, we're also experiencing better service levels. We're not quite there yet, but we're seeing good improvement. To clarify a little bit, the nature of phone calls are manifold, and the teams equipped to respond to certain types of calls are not one and the same because they require different types of expertise. Unfortunately, while a majority of calls have been related to orders, you will find that some of these calls end up with our product support teams and vice versa. Billing is an example where we don't receive a lot of calls typically. We do acknowledge the inconvenience and disruption this has caused to some, and for that we're truly sorry. We appreciate your understanding and cooperation as we finalize the transition of all users onto the new OmniPod. - Hjalte Hojsgaard, Director of Marketing for Insulet
The overall size decrease is amazing, a smaller footprint means everything to kids wearing the OmniPod insulin pump.
I wish the transition went a lot smoother than it did but I'm hopeful that many lessons were learned about product transition as well as how to navigate the world of the FDA while seeking clearance for a new device.
Arden likes the new OmniPod a lot!
I don't see any changes in Arden's BGs with the new pod. They aren't any better or any worse.
We haven't experienced any change in adhesive potency. Swimming and bathing are all status quo for Arden.
Arden wants me to tell you that the sequence of clicks that occur before insertion has changed. Those of you who prepare yourself mentally for the needle buy counting those clicks will need to adjust.
I'm already excited to see what the next generation of improvements will bring!
Important! I am currently providing Insulet with six written pieces for their blog Suite D. Two have already run, one will post soon and three more are on the way. I was compensated for my writing. Please know this, no freelance job is more valuable to me than the integrity of Arden's Day and the information that we (You and I) use to make important decisions about the health of the people that we love. If there was something bad to say about the new pods or if I had any concerns about something Insulet related, I would say so here without hesitation. Insulet has never asked me to have thoughts that aren't my own and if they did or ever do, I would decline. I am only compensated for the writing that I do for their blog and I am not compensated in any other way. My family pays the full amount that our insurance doesn't cover when we buy Arden's Omnipods.