This month’s DSMA Carnival is all about choosing technology. Earlier this month, I went through a run-down of my opinions of different insulin pumps and why I chose to ultimately go on the Omnipod (which is forthcoming). Instead of talking about how I choose my diabetes technology, I thought I’d give a brief run-down of important factors to consider when deciding on your medical devices.
First, I always think it’s important to be clear that nearly every insulin pump and glucose meter do the same thing. Insulin pumps pump insulin, glucose meters give you a blood sugar reading. The biggest difference isn’t so much in what it does, but in how it does it. This is just to say that I wouldn’t go tearing out your hair trying to decide what pump to use. Whatever pump you use will work for its intended purposes. It’s in the finer details that the decision is really made.
Five Questions To Ask Yourself When Choosing a Diabetes Device
1) Is this something I want to look at everyday?
Listen, as superficial as design and aesthetics are, you are wearing this thing all the time. I wear my insulin more than I wear anything else, including my wedding rings (because I don’t wear them to bed or to exercise). Do not under estimate the importance of how the pump looks. Meter looks are a little less important since you aren’t actually wearing it.
2) Do I like the user interface?
I find it vital to touch and feel and play with each screen of an insulin pump. I refused to choose an insulin pump until I could see what they all looked like. Some are a lot easier to read, some are more intuitive. Menus are all laid out differently and while you can certainly get used to one, it’s always good to make sure that it’s something you feel comfortable using. This is a completely individual opinion. It’s like following a fashion trend. Just because it works for someone else does not mean it will work for you. You have to try it out for yourself to see if it fits.
3) Will this device work with other devices I already have?
Continuous glucose monitors, your glucose meter, your computer’s operating system (PC vs. Mac) can sometimes make or break a piece of technology. If connectivity is important to you, you want to make sure it will work with what you already have.
4) Can I afford this device?
Insurance companies sometimes favor certain meters over others, so it’s important before you sign up to anything that you get an idea of what will be covered and by how much. There’s no point in falling head over heels in love with an iBGStar if your insurance company just laughs at you.
5) Do I like it?
I think a lot of us can get caught up in the opinions of others when it comes to diabetes technology. We’re always ready to evangelize our favorite pump, meter, app, form of exercise, etc. And we’re also ready to lay the smack down on anything that we don’t like (you know it’s true).
I remember when I was in college, thinking about what I wanted to be “when I grew up,” my dad and I had a conversation about being a pharmaceutical sales rep. He said I could work for Minimed. It was definitely a possibility, as I really liked Minimed (at the time). But I knew I couldn’t. I’m really perfectly comfortable with people using or wearing whatever device they happen to like the most. I don’t really see huge advantages to any system. They all have things that are good. They are all missing things that I think would be brilliant.
One thing that excites me about becoming a Certified Diabetes Educator is helping people find out how to make diabetes devices work for them. I don’t want you to manage your diabetes like me. I want you to manage your diabetes like YOU. What do you like? What works? What is appealing? Diabetes is one of the most unappealing diseases on the block, but we are also really lucky in that we do have some say in the devices we use. Most diseases don’t have these kinds of options. I’d be hard-pressed to call us “consumers” in the same way that we consume Apple or Coke products, but you do have the ability — most of the time — to choose what you want.
So don’t listen to me.