A Guide to Transitioning to Insulin Pump Therapy
An insulin pump is an option for people with diabetes to manage their blood sugars. These small, mechanical devices deliver insulin via tubing inserted under the skin in a way that mimics a normal human pancreas. For those who are actively involved in their diabetes management and can count carbohydrates, insulin pump therapy can be a flexible and effective option for diabetes management.
This guide will outline the steps to transitioning to insulin pump therapy and provide information and resources that are useful to know throughout the process. The first step is to meet with your diabetes provider to discuss if pump therapy is right for you. Diabetes providers consider your type of diabetes, degree of glucose control, and other factors when determining whether pump therapy is an appropriate option for you. At this point, your diabetes provider may also refer you to a diabetes educator to further discuss the specifics of pump therapy and a dietitian to teach you carbohydrate counting.
The next step is to select the pump type and model you prefer. If you don’t already know the pump you want, you can discuss pump options with your diabetes provider. Newer models of the pumps are integrated with a continuous glucose sensor and can automatically change insulin delivery rates depending on sugar values. After choosing a pump, you will be referred to a pump representative from your chosen pump company. This individual will collect a signed certificate of medical necessity from your diabetes provider and work to obtain insurance authorization.
Even if your insurance covers your insulin pump, you may still have out-of-pocket costs associated with the pump and supplies. These amounts vary from case to case. If your out-of-pocket costs are too high, there are organizations that can help.
After your pump is approved and shipped to you, an insulin pump trainer will formally train you on insulin pump basics. This individual will request initial pump settings from your diabetes provider. Pump training includes the basics of daily insulin pump use such as filling the insulin cartridge, entering counted carbohydrates, and changing infusion sets. In addition to formal pump training, there are online resources on your pump’s company website to help you get familiarized with the pump.
Soon after you start pump therapy (after 1-2 months), you should follow-up with your diabetes provider. During follow-up appointments, your diabetes provider can download and review your progress on the pump with you and adjust your pump settings to meet your needs and improve control.
Meet the Authors:
Molecular & Cellular Biology Undergraduate, Johns Hopkins University
Benjamin Lalani is a junior at Johns Hopkins University, where he is majoring in Molecular & Cellular Biology on the pre-medical track. He is a passionate advocate for people with diabetes and the founder and president of Pump Avenue Foundation, a nonprofit that repurposes insulin pumps not in use for patients unable to cover the expenses of diabetes care. In addition to his work with Pump Avenue Foundation, Benjamin is also a research assistant at the JHU School of Medicine, where he is helping with research on digital diabetes prevention programs. He has also completed the Summer Student Research Internship at Joslin Diabetes Center.
ADENA GOLDSTEIN, RN, BSN, CDCES
Adena Goldstein is a clinical diabetes nurse and certified diabetes care and education specialist at the Johns Hopkins Outpatient Diabetes Center in Baltimore, MD. Adena received her nursing degree from Villanova University in Philadelphia, PA and became a certified diabetes educator in 2012. She has experience with both pediatric and adult diabetes and has a strong interest in diabetes technology and using it to improve the lives of people with diabetes.