Diabetes is a chronic health condition affecting blood glucose levels. In some cases, it requires constant management in the form of monitoring blood glucose levels and administering insulin. Technologies such as the Omnipod system may facilitate this management and improve care in people living with diabetes.
Relying on insulin therapy for the management of diabetes can be stressful. Worry about blood glucose levels may lead to a condition called hypoglycemia anxiety, and research indicates that stress can affect glycemic measures. Advancements in technology that automate care may help improve glycemic control and quality of life.
This article will discuss what Omnipod is, what features it includes, and whether it helps people manage diabetes.
Omnipod is a wearable, waterproof, and tubeless insulin pump that the Massachusetts-based Insulet Corporation produces.
According to Insulet, its devices, also called pods, are an alternative to traditional insulin pumps and an effective method of insulin therapy. The company suggests the Omnipod uses proprietary Pod Therapy technology to provide roughly 3 days of continuous insulin delivery without the need for multiple injections.
The pods can deliver personalized doses of rapid-acting insulin based on the rates a person programs into a Personal Diabetes Manager (PDM) device. People can also combine Omnipod technology with a continuous glucose monitor (CGM) to create an automated insulin delivery (AID) system.
An AID system, which some people may refer to as an artificial pancreas or hybrid closed loop system, can help mimic the function of a healthy pancreas. Research suggests that automated insulin delivery systems can significantly improve diabetes management in adults, children, and adolescents.
Useful features of the Omnipod include:
- Wearability: People can wear the relatively discrete pods in most sites where they would normally inject. The pod can hold 85–200 units of rapid-acting insulin, and users can wear them for up to 3 days.
- Accessibility: With newer versions, people can use their smartphones instead of a PDM to control the device.
- Waterproof: People can wear the device in water at depths of up to 25 feet for 60 minutes, meaning it is safe to use in the shower or when swimming
- Tubeless: As the pods do not have tubes like traditional insulin pumps, users have more freedom of movement.
- Pod Therapy: This feature allows users to wirelessly program their insulin, removing the need for multiple daily injections.
- Customizable: Unlike other first-generation AID systems, Omnipod allows people to adjust their glucose targets to suit their needs.
- Smart algorithm: The program can learn a user’s needs and identify when to make adjustments. If a person connects the pod with a CGM, the device can make auto-adjustments to basal (background) insulin rates based on current and projected blood glucose values.
The Omnipod 5 AID system is still awaiting Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval, but early
The results of a 2021 multicenter clinical study that Insulet funded suggest the Omnipod 5 system can significantly improve diabetes outcomes in children and adults. After three months of using the system, participants had:
- lower rates of hypoglycemia
- lower rates of hyperglycemia
- an increased time in range, or time spent in the target blood sugar range
- improvements in HbA1c levels, which measure average blood sugar levels over the previous 2–3 months
The study proposes that the device may also help improve quality of life. According to diaTribe, 92% of adults and adolescents and 99% of children chose to continue using the Omnipod 5 after completing the trial.
A further 2021 outpatient evaluation funded by Insulet also indicated that the Omnipod 5 system is safe and performs well among people aged 6–70 years at all target glucose levels. Additionally, a 2021 article highlights the safety of the Omnipod 5 system in very young children living with type 1 diabetes. However, it is important to note that Insulet funded the study, and several of the authors are connected to the company.
Insulet suggests that its Omnipods can deliver the continuous control of pump therapy without the need for tubes.
As the Omnipod system is tubeless, it may present a more convenient and lifestyle-compatible option for many people. Some individuals may also find it helps alleviate the feeling of being tethered to a device.
This system has both advantages and disadvantages:
- may improve diabetes management and quality of life
- removes the need for regular injections with a syringe or insulin pen
- provides more freedom
- stores data and useful information that can optimize management
- easy to use and automates many steps for monitoring blood glucose
- can be expensive if not available on insurance
- may create reliance on the technology
- may cause skin irritation where the cannula pierces the skin
- may fall off
- may cause device fatigue
Insulet states its products are suitable for people living with either type 1 or type 2 diabetes. The company suggests the small medical device can help simplify diabetes management and is a viable alternative to injected insulin therapy.
To get an Omnipod system, a person will fill out an information form and undergo an insurance benefits investigation. If the individual is happy with the options and costs, a doctor can prescribe them a system. New users can organize a training session on how to use the system virtually or in a clinic.
The Omnipod website also provides information for caregivers on accessing a system for a loved one.
According to the Omnipod website, its insulin delivery systems are available through pharmacies, and most private insurance companies can cover some of the costs.
Omnipod does not provide an exact price but encourages people to use their website to estimate potential costs, noting that these will vary based on their health and coverage. Insulet suggests that those who use the Omnipod system typically pay less than $50 a month on a copayment plan through the pharmacy.
At present, some Medicare part D plans under a Tier 3 and Tier 4 copayment benefit cover Omnipod systems. People may need to find out if they have suitable access options.
Insulet also states that it has a financial assistance program that may help eligible users cover the cost of an Omnipod system, regardless of their insurance provider.
Omnipod is a tubeless continuous insulin infusion device that works similarly to an insulin pump. People can use this medical device to help automate their rapid-acting insulin therapy.
Individuals can also combine Omnipod technology with a continuous glucose monitor to create a hybrid closed loop system, which can mimic the function of a healthy pancreas. Research suggests that these systems can help improve diabetes management and quality of life.