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Insulin pumps may be an important tool for anybody with diabetes, particularly type 1, who needs to administer insulin.
A quick look at the best insulin pumps for diabetes
- Best with a continuous glucose monitor (CGM): Medtronic MiniMed 630G System
- Best with an exercise setting: Medtronic MiniMed 770G System
- Best tubeless device: Omnipod Dash
- Best slim design: t:slim X2
- Best for portability: Dana Diabecare IIS
- Best for connectivity: Roche Accu-Chek
The primary treatment for type 1 diabetes is the administration of insulin.
This article discusses what insulin pumps are and who would benefit from using them. It also explores common features of insulin pumps, insulin pump products, and some frequently asked questions.
A person wears an insulin pump outside their body. It is a small machine that provides bursts of insulin through a tube and needle as and when a person needs it. Some insulin pumps do not use needles and tubes but attach directly to the skin.
People may need to take insulin if their body no longer makes it. A person with type 1 diabetes is likely to use an insulin pump. Those with type 2 diabetes may also benefit from using one.
Medical News Today chooses medical equipment that meets the following criteria:
- Price: MNT chooses products available for a wide range of budgets. Insurance can often cover the price of the products, depending on an individual’s plan.
- Reputable: MNT chooses products from businesses that require a prescription, adhere to industry best practices, and that offer reliable customer service and support.
- Connectivity: MNT ensures that products have a range of connectivity and tracking options.
- Materials: MNT chooses products that have safe and durable materials that are easy to clean and maintain.
- User-friendly: MNT selects simple-to-use products that have clear instructions. Where applicable, MNT chooses brands that offer a set-up or advice service.
- Quality: MNT chooses companies that adhere to high quality manufacturing processes that ensure its products are safe for personal use.
Below are some insulin pumps for a person to consider. People who wish to buy a pump should contact the manufacturer with their healthcare and insurance details.
Please note that the writer of this article has not tried these products. All information presented is purely research-based and correct at the time of publication.
Medical News Today follows a strict product selection and vetting process. Learn more here.
Best with an integrated CGM: Medtronic MiniMed 630G System
- Suitability: 14 years of age and older
- Administration: tracks blood glucose levels and transmits data to the pump, which releases insulin with simple steps to deliver the bolus
- Standout features: bolus calculator and eight different basal patterns, such as “Work Day” and “Day Off”
This model from Medtronic comes with an optional CGM so a person can also monitor their blood glucose levels using the same device. It is also compatible with the Contour Next Link 2.4 blood glucose meter.
- alarms if a person goes below their preset glucose levels — the device will stop issuing insulin if a person does not respond
- a bolus calculator that automatically calculates doses and tells a person if they set them too close together
- predictive alerts
- waterproof protection
- color screen with adjustable brightness
- options for personalized skins
Individuals should change the tubing every 2–3 days.
- Medtronic claims that this system makes a person four times more likely to reach their target A1C level
- features a user-friendly screen and a status bar for useful data
- reviewers state the sensor integration function is well done
- has an integrated CGM, which may make it easier for some people to reach their target blood glucose levels
- larger and heavier than some other models
- reviewers state the belt clip tends to break
- some features require a separate CGM
Best with an exercise setting: Medtronic MiniMed 770G System
- Suitability: 2 years of age and over with type 1 diabetes
- Administration: sends insulin through thin tubing to the infusion site
- Standout features: compatible with a smartphone or healthcare app
This alternative device from Medtronic is an upgraded version of the MiniMed 670G system.
Additional features include:
- compatibility with a smartphone app, which can deliver glucose results
- compatibility with the Carelink Connect app, which allows friends, family, and caregivers to access information
- exercise setting that automatically changes a person’s glucose target
- automatic adjustment of background insulin every 5 minutes to help a person stay on target
- water resistance
- integrated meter
- exercise setting that automatically adjusts glucose levels, which may be particularly useful for active adults and children
- makes adjustments to basal settings based on CGM readings
- easily share data with healthcare professionals and family members
- requires multiple training sessions and additional finger sticks for calibration
- some features require a CGM
Best tubeless device: Omnipod Dash
- Suitability: people with type 1 or type 2 diabetes
- Administration: wearable, tubeless pod controlled by a personal diabetes monitor that looks like a smartphone
- Standout features: discreet in size and has automated cannula insertion
The Omnipod Dash insulin pump does not require tubes. The pump inserts through a device that enters the skin at the push of a button. A person can wear it on their body where they would usually inject insulin.
Other features include:
- holds 3 days of insulin storage
- a bolus calculator, presets, and a library of more than 80,000 foods
- insulin deliverable from anywhere using a smartphone-like Personal Diabetes Manager device
- compatible app for smartphones, which displays all readings and allows for notifications and alarms
- suitable people with type 1 or type 2 diabetes
- automated cannula
- no tubing
- reduced up-front costs
- many insurance companies cover the product
- available in pharmacies with a prescription
- does not have CGM integration
- requires a programmer to change the settings
Best slim design: t:slim X2
- Suitability: ages 6 years and over with type 1 diabetes
- Administration: tubing connects the insulin pump to the infusion site and does not require finger sticks when paired with the Dexcom G6 CGM device
- Standout features: integrates easily with smartphones and CGMs
This pump from Tandem has a slim design. The company claims it is 38% smaller than competitor products.
Additional features include:
- storage for 300 units of insulin
- easy-to-read color touchscreen
- integration with the Dexcom G6 CGM
- when people use it with the CGM, two predictive technologies are available
- adjusts insulin delivery to avoid highs and lows
- viewable glucose and insulin history.
- compatible with a mobile app via Bluetooth
- delivers automatically corrected boluses
- rechargeable battery
- automatically makes adjustments in insulin delivery according to CGM data
- no batteries to dispose of
- features multiple alerts
- the buttons are small, which some people may find difficult to use
- the device requires unlocking to make changes
Best for portability: Dana Diabecare IIS
- Suitability: people who need four glucose measurements per day
- Administration: via a reservoir and infusion set
- Standout features: small, lightweight, more cost-effective, and has preset meal boluses
According to the company, at half the weight and size of comparable insulin pumps, the Dana Diabecare IIS is a comfortable and affordable tool for managing diabetes.
Its small size and weight make the product a suitable choice for those looking for portability. A person needs to change the reservoir and infusion set at least every 72 hours.
It requires a medical professional to change the unit’s default settings for:
- glucose check alarms
- maximum daily total
- maximum bolus
- maximum basal
- costs less than other insulin pumps
- has a low basal rate delivery
- smaller and more lightweight than some other models
- fewer basal rate delivery options
- access to the user guides is difficult
- requires a medical professional to change default settings
Best for connectivity: Roche Accu-Chek
- Suitability: people who need to make on-the-go changes
- Administration: pump and glucose meter can operate independently, but using the meter to control the pump allows a person to do so more conveniently and discreetly
- Standout features: integrated Bluetooth connectivity, a large capacity insulin cartridge, and displays bolus advice on the meter
The Roche Accu-Chek system consists of an insulin pump and a CGM, all linked through a Bluetooth connection that supports real-time diabetes management.
The Bluetooth connection allows individuals to remotely control bolus delivery, view pump status and activity, and email or fax reports to healthcare professionals.
The unit offers programmable reminders, while a temporary basal rate function lets people make changes quickly to meet changing conditions. Onscreen graphs help individuals track data and trends.
- large insulin cartridge
- easy-to-use bolus function
- battery-powered, which means people will have to purchase and replace the batteries
- the pump is larger than some other models
The following table compares the insulin pumps in this article on their main features, administration method, and suitability.
|Medtronic 630G||ages 14 and up||• bolus calculator|
• eight basal patterns
|blood glucose levels trigger insulin release|
|Medtronic 770G||• ages 2 and up |
• people with type 1 diabetes
|• smartphone compatible|
• Carelink Connect compatible
|insulin through tubing|
|Omnipod||• people with type 1 diabetes|
• people with type 2 diabetes
|• tube free|
• discreet size
• automated cannula insertion
|personal diabetes monitor controls pod|
|t:slimX2||• ages 6 and up |
• people with type 1 diabetes
|• smaller than other options|
• smartphone compatible
• CGM compatible
|insulin through tubing|
|Dana Diabecare||people who need 4 blood glucose measurements per day||• small|
• more affordable
• preset meal boluses
|interface, reservoir, and infusion set|
|Accu-Chek||people with changeable insulin needs||• bolus advice display|
• large capacity insulin cartridge
|meter controls pump|
A person may wish to consider some of the following features when buying an insulin pump:
- The highest dosage — also called a bolus — and if this is enough for a person’s needs.
- How much insulin the pump holds.
- Battery life and type.
- Compatibility of the infusion set, or needle and tubing.
- If it can work in conjunction with a CGM or glucose meter.
- Additional features that may benefit a person, such as meal bolus calculators or water resistance.
People will need a prescription to purchase an insulin pump and should never purchase one from a company that does not require a prescription.
Insulin pumps deliver insulin in
Basal insulin delivery
Basal insulin delivery provides a continuous infusion of insulin over 24 hours. This delivery method can give as little as 0.01 units per hour and can optimize delivery amounts throughout the day and night to fit each person’s needs.
There are several factors that influence basal insulin needs, including whether someone is going through puberty, their activity level, the time of day, and their sleep schedule.
Bolus insulin delivery
Bolus insulin delivery gives a one-time rapid-action dose. People may use this form of delivery before meals or when they need to correct high blood glucose levels.
Most insulin pumps have a calculator that recommends a dose according to:
- a person’s current blood glucose levels
- the amount of active insulin in the body from the previous bolus dose
- the total grams of carbohydrates the person enters into the pump
This method delivers insulin in as little as 0.025 units, which may give people more control over how much insulin they inject in comparison with syringes.
Additionally, some insulin pumps have an extended-release option, which means that they provide a partial basal dose immediately and then deliver the rest over 2–3 hours. This may help prevent delayed postprandial hyperglycemia.
A healthcare professional should train people on using insulin pumps. However, most insulin pumps involve the following steps:
- Fill the reservoir: People should attach the tube that connects the cannula to the reservoir outlet.
- Prime the pump: A person must press the controls that tell the pump to begin moving the plunger, which ensures there is no air in the tube or pump.
- Insert the infusion set: Once they have removed as much air as possible from the tube and reservoir, they can then apply the infusion set to their stomach, thighs, arms, or buttocks.
- Set the basal rate: Healthcare professionals can recommend the best basal rate for a person’s needs, and people can change the rate at any time from the insulin pump.
- Deliver bolus shots: People should deliver bolus shots as and when they are necessary, such as before a meal or if they need to correct their blood glucose levels. They can do this by pressing the relevant buttons on their pumps.
- Change the infusion site: Individuals will need to find a different area to place the infusion set every 2–3 days.
- Refill the pump: When the pump begins to run out of insulin, a person will either have to replace the cartridge or refill the reservoir from an insulin vial.
Below are some of the most common questions and answers about insulin pumps.
Does an insulin pump hurt?
Generally, insulin pumps should not cause pain and should be easy to use. However, some pumps have tubing that can catch on clothing or become tangled. This could cause strain and soreness at the infusion site.
How much is an insulin pump without insurance?
Costs of insulin pumps can vary without insurance. However, many companies may offer financial assistance and payment plans depending on a person’s eligibility.
How is an insulin pump inserted?
To insert the infusion set of an insulin pump, a person needs to remove as much air as possible from the tubing and reservoir. They then insert the cannula, or thin tube, under the skin and tape it in place.
Some insulin pumps come with applicators to make this process easier.
Is an insulin pump better than injections?
An insulin pump is not necessarily better or worse than using injections to manage diabetes, but it is different. Using an insulin pump is not necessarily a permanent choice, although switching back and forth is something a person should do with the support of their diabetes care team.
An insulin pump could be a suitable choice for a person if:
- they or their caregivers can use the pump safely
- they are active
- they have frequent episodes of low blood glucose
- might have difficulty sticking to an insulin injection schedule
- they have gastroparesis — a delay in the stomach’s ability to absorb food
- they are planning to get pregnant
- their insurance covers it
Who qualifies for an insulin pump?
The American Diabetes Association states that the only absolute requirement for using an insulin pump is a commitment to use it safely. People with type 1 diabetes and those with type 2 diabetes who take insulin during the day can use insulin pumps.
Some insurance policies will cover the costs of insulin pumps, but not all, so individuals should check their coverage. People with Medicare plans can get a portion of the costs of their insulin pumps covered, but they should contact their plan provider for confirmation.
Can I use insulin pumps for children?
- improved glycemic control
- fewer complications
- better quality of life for children and their caregivers
The key characteristic behind this improvement is the ability of adults to remotely manage the insulin pump.
Insulin pumps may effectively help children and caregivers to better manage the condition by avoiding insulin injection schedules.
Insulin pumps may play a vital role for those with diabetes who need to administer insulin. Pumps can be an alternative to a person injecting themselves with insulin several times a day.
Many insulin pumps have smart features and can be compatible with smartphones or CGMs.
A person must have a prescription to receive an insulin pump, and insurance may cover the cost.