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Insulin pumps may be an important tool for anybody with diabetes, particularly type 1, who needs to administer insulin.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) state that in the last 20 years, the number of adults diagnosed with diabetes has more than doubled.

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 features of insulin pumps, insulin pump products, and some frequently asked questions.

A quick look at the best insulin pumps for diabetes

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 needed. 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. However, people with type 2 diabetes may also benefit from using one.

Learn more about insulin.

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 continuous glucose monitor (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.

Learn more about basal-bolus insulin therapy.

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.

Best with an integrated CGM: Medtronic MiniMed 630G System

  • Pros: The product has a user-friendly screen and a status bar that easily provides useful data.
  • Cons: It is a little bigger and heavier than other models, and some reviewers report the belt clips tend to break.
  • Standout features: It has a bolus calculator and eight different basal patterns, such as “Work Day” and “Day Off.”
  • Administration: The meter tracks blood glucose levels and transmits data to the pump, which releases insulin with simple steps to deliver the bolus.
  • Suitability: The product best suits those ages 14 and up.

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.

Medtronic claims that this system makes a person four times more likely to reach their target A1C level, which is their average blood glucose level over about 3 months.

Other features include:

  • 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, which automatically calculates doses and tells a person if they set them too close together.
  • Predictive alerts.
  • Waterproof protection.
  • Color screen with adjustable brightness.
  • Personalized skins are available.

Some of the features above require a CGM.

Individuals should change the tubing every 2–3 days.

Using an insulin pump with an integrated CGM can make it easier for some people to reach their target blood glucose levels. Users say the sensor integration function of this pump is well done.

Best with an exercise setting: Medtronic MiniMed 770G System

  • Pros: This product has an integrated meter, an exercise setting that adjusts glucose levels, and makes adjustments to basal settings based on CGM readings, which users can easily share with healthcare professionals and family members.
  • Cons: It requires multiple training sessions and additional finger sticks for calibration.
  • Standout features: This product is smartphone- and healthcare app-compatible.
  • Administration: The pump sends insulin through thin tubing to the infusion site, and individuals can wear the pump on a waistband.
  • Suitability: This product best suits those aged 2 years and over with type 1 diabetes.

This alternative device from Medtronic is an upgraded version of the previously listed 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.
  • An exercise setting, which automatically changes a person’s glucose target.
  • Automatic adjustment of background insulin every 5 minutes to help a person stay on target.
  • Water resistance.

Some of these features require a CGM.

This unit comes with an exercise setting that adapts glucose levels automatically, which is useful for very active adults and children.

Best tubeless device: Omnipod Dash

  • Pros: This product has an automated cannula, no tubing, and reduced up-front costs.
  • Cons: It does not have CGM integration, needs a programmer to change the settings, and not all third-party payors cover it.
  • Standout features: This product is discreet in size and has automated cannula insertion.
  • Administration: Delivery is via a wearable, tubeless pod controlled by a personal diabetes monitor that looks like a smartphone.
  • Suitability: This product best suits those with type 1 or type 2 diabetes.

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’ worth of insulin storage.
  • A bolus calculator, presets, and a library of more than 80,000 foods.
  • People can deliver insulin from anywhere using a smartphone-like Personal Diabetes Manager device.
  • It is waterproof.
  • It has a compatible app for smartphones, which displays all readings and allows for notifications and alarms.
  • It suits people with either type 1 or type 2 diabetes.

Many insurance companies cover the Omnipod Dash. It is also available through pharmacies with a prescription.

Best slim design: t:slim X2

  • Pros: This product automatically makes adjustments in insulin delivery based on CGM data, there are no batteries to dispose of, and features multiple alerts.
  • Cons: The buttons are small, which some people may find difficult to use, and the device needs unlocking to make changes.
  • Standout features: It integrates easily with smartphones and CGMs.
  • Administration: The pump does not require finger sticks when paired with the Dexcom G6 CGM device. Tubing connects the insulin pump to the infusion site.
  • Suitability: People with type 1 diabetes ages 6 years and over.

This pump from Tandem has a slim design. The company claims it is 38% smaller than competitors’ products.

Additional features include:

  • Storage for 300 units of insulin.
  • An easy-to-read color touchscreen.
  • It integrates with the Dexcom G6 CGM.
  • When people use it with the CGM, they can choose from two predictive technologies.
  • It adjusts insulin delivery to avoid highs and lows.
  • A person can view their glucose and insulin history.
  • It is compatible with a mobile app via Bluetooth.
  • It delivers automatically corrected boluses.
  • It is waterproof.
  • It has a rechargeable battery.

Best extended use: FreeStyle Libre 14-day

  • Pros: Medicare cover is available for compatible smartphones, the company offers a free 14-day trial, and it does not require finger sticks.
  • Cons: Some reviews have mentioned concerns with accuracy and irritation at the insertion site.
  • Standout features: The product has long lasting sensors, and it can receive data through a smartphone.
  • Administration: Self-applied sensor that syncs with the smartphone app.
  • Suitability: People aged 18 and over with either type 1 or type 2 diabetes.

This CGM device can measure glucose levels every minute through its LibreLink app or a handheld reader and sensor.

According to the company, the FreeStyle Libre 14-day states this device can provide up to 14 days of accurate glucose readings due to its long lasting sensor, which users apply themselves. A person inserts this sensor just under the skin on the back of the upper arm.

Individuals can use their smartphones to track their glucose levels, receive alerts, and review trends. They can also set up the LibreLinkUp app to share their information with up to 20 people, such as family members or healthcare professionals.

The long lasting sensors help this device provide continuous coverage.

Best for portability: Dana Diabecare IIS

  • Pros: This product costs less than other insulin pumps and has low basal rate delivery.
  • Cons: It has fewer basal rate delivery options, and access to the user guides is difficult.
  • Standout features: The product is small, lightweight, more cost-effective, and preset meal boluses.
  • Administration: Via a reservoir and infusion set.
  • Suitability: Those that need four glucose measurements per day.

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 good choice for those looking for portability. The reservoir and infusion set should be changed 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

Best for connectivity: Roche Accu-Chek

  • Pros: This product has a large insulin cartridge and an easy-to-use bolus function.
  • Cons: Both the handset and pump are battery-powered, and the pump is larger than some other models.
  • Standout features: The pump has well-integrated Bluetooth connectivity, a large capacity insulin cartridge, and displays bolus advice on the meter.
  • Administration: The 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.
  • Suitability: The pump may best suit those who need to make on-the-go changes to match their insulin needs.

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.

SuitabilityMain featuresAdministration
Medtronic MiniMed 630G Systemages 14 and upbolus calculator

eight basal patterns
blood glucose levels transmitted to pump that releases insulin
Medtronic MiniMed 770G Systemthose with type 1 diabetes

ages 2 and up
compatible with smartphones

compatible with Carelink Connect app
pump sends insulin through thin tubing to infusion site
Omnipod Dashthose with type 1 or 2 diabetestube free

discreet size

automated cannula insertion
wearable tubeless pod controlled by personal diabetes monitor
t:slimX2those with type 1 diabetes

ages 6 and up
up to 38% smaller than other options

easy integrations with smartphones and CGMs
tubing connects insulin pump to infusion site
FreeStyle Libre 14 daypeople with type 1 or type 2 diabetes

ages 18 and up
long lasting sensors

can receive data through smartphone
self-applied sensor, syncing devices with sensor through an app
Dana Diabecare IISfor those needing 4 blood glucose measurements per daysmall
lightweight

more affordable

preset meal boluses
icon-based interface, reservoir, and infusion set
Roche Accu-Chekthose with changeable insulin needsbolus advice display

large capacity insulin cartridge

well-integrated Bluetooth
meter controls pump for added convenience

A 2019 study shows using insulin pumps to manage glucose levels in children with type 1 diabetes results in the following:

  • improved glycemic control
  • fewer complications
  • better quality of life for children and their caregivers

The key characteristic behind this improvement is the ability for 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.

People just beginning their insulin pump journey should work closely with their diabetes care teams to learn how to use them properly. Important elements of this training include:

  • setting basal insulin rates
  • setting bolus rates
  • learning how to use temporary settings
  • learning how to insert and connect the infusion set
  • understanding how to clean, care for, and watch for issues with insulin pumps

Below are some of the most common questions and answers about insulin pumps.

Who qualifies for an insulin pump?

A person may be able to get an insulin pump if they are currently taking insulin injections. A person should discuss this with their doctor or healthcare professional.

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 offer financial assistance and payment plans if required.

How does an insulin pump work?

The American Diabetes Association describes insulin pumps as small, computerized devices. They deliver insulin in a steady and continuous dose, or basal rate, which the user typically programs themselves. They also deliver insulin as a surge dose, or bolus, under the user’s direction.

The insulin enters the body through a thin tube attached to a needle that goes under the skin. People refer to the tube and needle together as an infusion set.

How is an insulin pump inserted?

To insert the infusion set of an insulin pump:

  • remove as much air as possible from the tubing and reservoir
  • 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.

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.