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Tips for Managing Diabetes

Insulin Pump Therapy: Tips for Getting Started

Provided by: Kellie Rodriguez, MSN, CDE, CPT

Currently, insulin can be administered via syringe, insulin pen or insulin pump. It’s a personal choice; however, pumps are increasingly becoming more popular with people with type 1 diabetes and insulin requiring type 2. There are a few key tips for optimizing your success…

Are you a pump candidate?

        • Who wants the pump? You, your family or health care provider?
          Except for a young child, it should be the person with diabetes making the decision.

        • Are you technically capable?
          If you can text on a cell phone, the answer is yes!

        • Are you monitoring your blood sugar levels at least four times a day?
          This is essential with pump therapy given use with rapid acting insulin.

        • Can you carb count accurately?
          This is also essential given insulin dosage is based on the carb information provided.

Explore all your pump options. There are currently six insulin pumps available in the U.S. (T-Slim, Omnipod, Animas Ping, Medtronic, Spirit and DANA Diabecare II) and this is going to change rapidly over the next few years. Be sure you review all your pump options to ensure you make the best decision for you and your life. Essentially all pumps come with smart features and you are generally basing your choice on the different “bells and whistles” available with each pump. The DRI conducts a class called Introduction to Pumps, which provides a full overview of technologies available.

Obtain insurance verification. Know if you are likely to have any out-of-pocket expenses with pump therapy implementation. Each insulin pump company has representatives who assist with this verification process. There should be no surprises!

Get optimal pump training! Most problems associated with pump therapy arise from improper implementation due to a lack of optimal training. There are four phases to pump therapy training:

Phase 1: Technical Training – Learn how to push the buttons on your pump, program settings and undertake a complete site insertion and site change.

Phase 2: Pump Management – Learn how to manage your pump in various life situations. It is essential you receive this information at the time you start insulin pump therapy – not weeks, months or years later.

Phase 3: Follow-up – Ensure you contact your health care team within the first week on an insulin pump to notify them how you are progressing. Your health care team will notify you whether this should be in the form of a telephone call, email or visit, with the latter essential if you are experiencing any challenges. Also, arrange a formal follow-up session with a member of your health care team within three to four weeks for full evaluation and pump download to identify any early opportunities for improved management.

Phase 4: Advanced Pump Features – All pumps come with advanced features to assist people with diabetes to handle different life situations that arise. These advanced features pertain largely to exercise, carbohydrate coverage, sick days or monthly cycles and are unfortunately grossly underutilized or unknown by many people using insulin pump therapy. As I tell my patients, “Why have a Ferrari if you are going to drive it like my Jeep!” So get the best from your insulin pump technology by knowing its full capabilities.

Which insulin pump do you use?
Commencing insulin pump therapy can be intimidating when you're used to injections.  Kellie's top tips will help you get started.


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