Omnipod review: a mixed bag

I’d like to put my two cents in regarding the Omnipod system and what I’ve experienced in the past few months using it. Prior to starting with the Omnipod system, I was a Minimed Paradigm 511 pump user for nearly 5 years. I got used to my Paradigm over the years but yearned for a pump that wouldnt have tubing that snagged on objects and was waterproof and had an integrated glucometer (I also was a Freestyle meter user).
So when the Omnipod became available this year for us California residents, I was very excited to try it out. My hgbA1C with my Paradigm pump was 6.6 in 09/07 so I was already in good control.
An intructor came by to train both myself and my CDE on use of the Omnipod in September and I have used it constantly since then.
Ok, Here are my findings. Although I have tried to be positive about the Omnipod system, I find that my blood sugars fluctuate way more than previous when I was using a Paradigm pump. This was also the experience of my CDE who used the Omnipod system on a trial basis. She ended up hating it.
Since the Pod gets tossed out every three days (and I’ve only had 1 truly malfunctioning pod in the 2 1/2 months that I’ve used the system) I don’t think its a Pod malfunction issue but rather a design issue: is the cannula in the Pod too small and is the adhesive not strong enough to allow the likelihood that insulin is leaking out from the insertion site?
You see, the pod is not especially light and the adhesive used is the same type of adhesive dressing used on standard pump insertion tubing kits, but there’s more weight applied to it. Hence after a short period of time, the pod starts to pull away from the skin (at least on me) and depsite all sorts of maneuvers including using medical adhesive to get it to stick on better and avoiding any moistruizing creams anywhere near the site, it still ends up being able to move at the canula site. The cannula also appears to be thinner and shorter than the cannula that I have used with my other insulin pump and I wonder whether this has an affect on insulin delivery.
On certain days, such as today, my blood glucose results roller coaster up and down and I finally give up and trying to manage them with the Omnipod alone and resort to shots to cover the highs.
Other days it appears to work well, with blood sugars fairly controlled, but without the degree of control that I had with my paradigm pump.
Its difficult to actually see if insulin is leaking out as the cannula is barely visible through the window in the pod.
I plan to call the omnipod support line and discuss this with them. It may be that
I need to try adifferent location (although I’ve experience the same results on my triceps area as my stomach) or perhaps try a different method of attachment.
Or perhaps, It might be that Omnipod is not right for me. Either way, I am hesitant to order new supplies given my experience.
The customer relations department at Insulet has been great so far in answering questions as they arise. Hopefully they can resolve this situation for me.

Our 9 yo likes to wear the pod on his arm, and since the pod does have a fair bit of mass it tries to fling itself off. He has developed an armband system to keep it stable. We cut the bottoms out of a white sock. He loves it cause he looks like and Indian.

We have had 6 pod failures in 3 months which concerns me. Insulet has taken it very seriously and wants every pod back that fails early and replaces it at no cost to us.

This was very interesting to hear from an experienced pumper and compare to the older (stable?) hardware. All in all we are delighted with our OmniPod and the company.

Thanks Gary and Dave for your comments. My concern with using the Omnipod on a place where it may be difficult to have access to the cannula window for viewing, such as using it on the arm, is that one cannot always assume that the cannula stays within the skin. Case in point, I had my pod on a few days ago and was in good control. At lunchtime, a premeal check showed my BG to be 330, so I gave myself enough insulin to cover and more to cover my meal.
I should have checked the pod or given myself insulin from my pen, as I proceeded to do some Xmas shopping and then found myself a bit disoriented after a few hours. Checked my BG, meter read HIGH-Check Ketones, at which point I bolused myself from my insulin pen. 1.5 hours later, I had a BG reading of 440!, which eventually came down to normal. The point I’m making is I didnt even realize that the cannula was out of the skin. I didnt pull on the pod at all nor was it loose from my skin. When I took the pod off, I found the adhesive to be wet (presumably from insulin).
So lesson learned.
I still like not having to deal with tubing and I like the fact that my meter and pump programmer is an all in one device. Ultimately if Omnipod pairs with a CGM system I think it would solve this problem. But I will never again try to treat a very high glucose with my pod, but rather assume there’s a problem with the system. And I am hesitant to use it on my arm or any part of my body where I cannot physically see the cannula through the window. Covering it with ace wraps and arm bands may not be such a good thing.


I’m glad to see that I’m not the only one with problems with the OmniPod system. I also experience odd high BGs. Just this morning, I awoke at 433! Yikes! As you note, I also can have some days with great numbers, then for some odd reason, I get these huge highs. I’ve been (trying to) use the OmniPod since last July and have kept with it because of the fight I had with my insurance company to get it covered. I’ve been diabetic (type 1) for coming up on 38 years and have so far been pretty lucky and have suffered no complications so I know a little about good control and how to achieve it (last A1C was 6.5 and that’s the highest in several years). I’m not at all happy with these incredible highs that I rarely if ever experienced with injections.

I have taken “vacations” from the OmniPod a couple of times since starting with it and get better control with MDI and Lantus although I do have more hypos. I thought maybe I was just too set in my ways after so many years, but your post makes me realize perhaps it’s not all me. I’ve thought several times about quitting, but just haven’t been able to give in!

Hi Diane,
I’m strongly considering ditching the pod and going back to a conventional pump. I’ve had a run of bad pods recently (either won’t load or stop before 3 days), experienced the same unexplained highs (although i’m tempted to think the canulas either occlude/kink or dislodge from the skin entrance site) and given the lukewarm response that i get with customer service, I’m looking into replacing it with an Animas pump. I’ve been paying out of pocket for my omnipod :my insurance company won’t cover it. It comes out to $350/ month for the pods whereas the Animas would be covered. Not crazy about being tethered to a convnetional pump again, but the honeymoon with Insulet corporation is coming to an end.

I tried a Minimed several years ago and didn’t have much luck with it and had similar unexplained highs. My endo at the time asked me if I ever have skin allergies or sensitivity and oddly enough, I do! She thought that my skin just wouldn’t accept having something there for several days and maybe tried to scar up around the cannula or maybe my skin just wouldn’t absorb a continuous drip. It does make sense because most of my problems come in the second or third day of wearing a new pod or after changing the infusion set. I guess even if there is new technology, if it doesn’t work as well as syringes–why change? Ah, well…at least I gave it a try.

My son who is 9 started on the Omnipod from the Cozmo back in January. We were very excited since he is an active baseball player. Having no tubing meant not having to dig into his layers of clothes to get to his pump. We are now ex-Omnipod users because of the issues you described. We had more pod failures than what you’ve had and the pod would pull away from the adhesive and not the adhesive pulling away from the skin. Although that did occur a few times the other was more frustrating. His blood sugars were out of control and most of the time we had to revert to shots.

We tried to be patient but when you have a childs life in your hands it’s difficult to continue to wait for them to improve the product. We have been back on the Cozmo without 1 failure in the past 3 months. His blood sugars are much more under control.

Insulet was always good about replacing and I had no problem with their customer service. When I advised the local sales rep of our issues he asked one question, Is your son active? 9 year old boy, active? of course. That was the end of the conversation and he said it wasn’t meant for everyone.

I hope there are improvements to the design that allow it to be more reliable in the future because it’s a great concept. It’s just not reliable enough for me yet. Although there are lots of users out there with no issues.

I have been on the omnipod for more than a month. I am 15, I skateboard, skimboard, scuba dive,boogyboard, ride bikes, play drums/guitar/bass, wakeboard. I stay at the beach all day and in the water. I have only had 2 pods fall off, but that is going 25 mph. and wakeboarding with the pod exposed. I have only had 1 pod failure, but that was no big deal. I have found it to be a blessing and would not like to go to shots again, but I do need to take it off when scuba diving. I love it.

Wow, good for you Daniel!
I just had my omnipod fall off after just 24 hours of use. Didn’t knock it, wasn’t sweating, showered in lukewarm water, and didn’t use any lotions on my skin. At 33 dollars a pop and without insurance to cover the cost, I am in the process of using up my pods so that I can get a pump that’s reliable, covered by insurance, won’t fall off, won’t malfunction and have a better customer support /customer rep network than omnipod. I would love to have someone such as yourself who obviously has had much better luck with this system to take this junk off my hands.
Let me know!

Maybe you should change your Omnipod every 2 days instead of 3 to avoid it coming off.

My son is not using the Omnipod, but we are thinking about it. We are currently using the Medtronic Pump. Most people are able to change out their port every 3 days. However, after too many highs on the 3rd day, we switched to changing Reed’s every 2 days. Try that and maybe you can get off the shots! =) Blessings!

Wow, I am really amazed to hear so many negative comments on the Omnipod. It has been just an absolute life changer for me, and I can’t wait for the CGMS system to be integrated- they’re saying maybe by next summer. I love it. Thanks, Omnipod, keep it up!

I tried the Minimed pump but was absolutely appalled that anyone could live with it. I panicked about inserting the set, about being tangled in it at night, about yanking it off at the connector for showers, about dropping it or even having it tugged off when I went to the bathroom. It was awful. It was like a bulky, attached, gaping wound. I’d never felt like such a debilitated person and a permanent patient.

The Omnipod is the best technology I’ve experienced in my 27 years of diabetes. It’s also the best value, the best support, and the closest approximation of a cure. In light of this, the occasional odd pod seems totally negligible! As far as it not being covered by insurance, that it outrageous and unacceptable. We had to fight for a month, but we got mine covered- you can do it too! Insurance will always be the last to adapt to change, and the last to recognize the human value of such a device, so fight them all the way. I remember insurance not covering the first blood meter- claiming for a year that urine testing was “good enough”. Don’t stand for it, it’s bald-faced greed.

Wow, I really have to disagree.
I wonder how long you’ve been on the Omnipod system.
I too was really happy with it initially but became disenchanted by the difficulty of maintaining the adhesive hold for 3 days, erratic blood sugars (probably related to the pod coming loose), a series of pod failures (5 to be exact) stemming from a manufacturing defect (by the way they’re made in China) which has since been corrected. Their customer support is lacking to say the least: when I had a pod failure and was out of town, there was not a rep available to assist me in getting a pod to tide me over till I returned home. Pod replacements are offered but you have to insist in getting them in a timely matter otherwise expect it in 7-10 days. In the long run. a conventional pump is more economical longer lasting and hate to say perhaps more accurate. Hence, the reason why insurance companies won’t put it on their formulary.
I noticed you listed your last HgBA1C as 9: was this taken while you were on the Paradigm pump or on the Omnipod system?
I honestly don’t think I am on as tight control with the Omnipod system as I was with my old Paradigm 511.
For those who like myself like the idea of being able to bolus from their meter, you should check out the new Animas Ping system. Yes it has tubing, but you can tuck your pump away in a safe space and forget about it, controlling the functions by using the meter, just like the Omnipod PDM.

Isn’t it great that people can have different opinions? You may think you’re right, but you are not right, you’re just seeing it differently.

I am very offended that you would provide commentary on someone else’s A1C. In my book, this is about as low as a person – with or without diabetes – can go. Did the other commenter ask for your opinion on her A1C, perhaps wondering where her trouble may have come from? If so, I don’t see that anywhere.

And by the way, the keyboard you are typing on and the shirt on your back probably came from China, too. Don’t pretend it’s some sort of human rights argument you’re making here. You’re just trying to back up your point with as many slights to the product as possible. Maybe you don’t like the color of it, too? Cheap shots, all around.

Sorry, I did not mean to offend anyone or pass judgement, only to inquire whether her last test was related to the switch or not.
And I’m not making a human rights statement here…far from it. I am making a statement about quality control or lack there of.
So sorry to offend, just my point of view and my expression of freedom of speech (unlike in China :-).

I could not agree more, Ami. The two words I’ve most used to describe OmniPod to my friends and family are "life changing!"
My last HbA1c before starting on OmniPod was 7.7. Just 3 months after starting on it I was 6.6; and that was just the (very conservative) parameters set by the CDE that trained me, my endo Dr. has not even tweaked the numbers yet (he’s waiting for the next 6 month visit).

Adhesive/Quality: If someone reports problems with adhesive, and yet thousands of other people use the pods without such troubles, where do we think the source of the problem is, with the pods or perhaps with the occasional individuals who have problems? I’m not saying anything bad about anyone, just that there are differences in people’s bodies that can make something like adhesion problematic. There are also products that I’ve read many people report help in that particular area. The vast majority of people seem to be fine with the pods, so I wouldn’t let the vocal majority influence me too much (indeed I did not, and believe me I did plenty of research before deciding to go with OmniPod).
As for the manufacturing problem from earlier this year, Insulet has acknowledged it (at least to me and other people I’ve read about) and said it was with one particular batch (my own experience backs that up - the 2 or 3 failures I had were all from the same box, and none of my other boxes has ever had any problem). Time will tell if they have truly addressed whatever the manufacturer problem was, but to be completely down on the entire technology based on that, well I don’t know what to say other than, “that’s not me.”

Customer Service: The few times I’ve had to call their customer support it has always been a pleasant experience (much better than any other technology company today - have you tried talking to the likes of Dell or RoadRunner, etc. lately?!). My sales rep has actually called me to ask “how’s it going” and she spent like 30 minutes on the phone listening to my experience and answering questions. My CDE trainer answers email questions every time I’ve sent them. I even read one blogger who was given a tour of the Insulet offices/lab when she was visiting Boston. So, again, I have to strongly disagree with the assessment that their customer support is sub-par.

Cost: With the retail (non-insurance) cost of pods at about $30 each, changed every 3 days, it works out to approx the cost of a traditional pump (~$6000) after about 2 years, so there is some merit to the idea that OmniPod costs more. However, that is a somewhat flawed calculation because it a) ignores the ongoing costs of traditional pumps (insertion sets, tubing, etc.) and b) assumes that the cost of pods will remain constant over the 2 years, when in fact increasing market penetration means more demand which usually means manufacturing costs go down. Nothing is certain, but I’ll be very surprised if the pods still cost retail $30 2 years from now. Furthermore, I don’t think very many people are on pump therapy without insurance, so the actual cost is really a lot less for the average person. There is simply no way to generalize about the relative cost versus other pumps; it is quite dependent on the individual’s insurance coverage.

Insurance: By the way, it seems (from my readings online) that a majority of insurance companies cover OmniPod now. If you look at it from a business standpoint, it makes more sense for insurance companies than a traditional pump, because of the MUCH lower up-front cost. It makes sense for insurance companies to invest as little as possible in you as a member because you can leave at any time.

Oops, this has gotten way off-topic. I just wanted to offer another positive review to counter the nagativity. I have no complaints whatsoever with the OmniPod (other than some ideas for improving the PDM software, but I’m a software developer myself so that is just my nature :slight_smile:

Well its always great to hear other opinions and as another poster mentioned, no one is truly right or wrong. But there are some glaring errors that should be mentioned in your post, Eric.
First is that there are several posts by members of this site and others regarding problems with the adhesive. Your comment of “thousands of other people use the pod without any trouble” may be correct, but there is a significant number of users that do have problems with the pod staying put, so that Omnipod reps now recommend using skin barriers or adhesives or plastic dressings to help the pod stay put.
Also, your cost analysis is way off. The pods are $33 a piece and if you use 122 pods per year, it comes out to $4026/year + the $800 for the PDM. The initial cost of a pump is about $5000 with pump tubing usually selling for $120 per box of 10 or $1440 per year. So, the initial outlay for an Animas setup or Medtronic Minimed pump + supplies is a bit more, but most users will keep their pumps for the 4 year warrantee period and only costs then are 1440 per year. Yet the Omnipod system continues to cost $4026 per year. This is the reason why Kaiser Permanente, the largest health insurance carrier in California won’t put it on formulary and why several other posters on this blog have been denied by their insurance companies.
I hope that my negative experience with customer service was a one time problem but I have read other posts where people had less than optimal interactions, particularly with insurance coverage issues.
I ultimately believe Insulet is a company that cares about these issues and eventually they will be ironed out.

First, I don’t think pointing out that the pods are manufactured in China is offensive. I didn’t know that. If I had, I may not have begun using them (the Chinese killed off my Jack Russell Terrier with poisoned dog food). My last A1c was 7.1, that was unusually high. I was having unknown power supply issues with my Paradigm 512 (that I’d been using for 4 years and was almost out of warranty). Since becoming a pumper I had not had an A1c over 7. They are usually around 6.3. I am an extremely active 40 year old who has been a type 1 since the age of 7. Becoming a pumper totally changed my life! I began with a Minimed 508. Got upgraded to the Paradigm 512. Loved them both. Had so much more freedom, tubing and all. Have been happily pumping for 8 years. When I started having power issues and erroneous errors with my 512, I lost confidence in the quality of the technology (not taking into account that it was almost out of warranty!). So, I switched to OmniPods.

I have had all of the same issues as Rob. Pods pulling off for no reason, pods failing for no reason, unexplained high bgs without pod failure. I have had 2 failures in 2 months. In all 5 issues in 2 months. Each time with a full load of 100 units of insulin. That needs to be taken into account when calculating total cost by the way. I am currently in the process of getting an upgraded Minimed pump. Can’t wait. This is the most unreliable piece of junk I’ve ever seen. Injections were better, more reliable. If anyone would like to take mine off my hands, please let me know. At the very least I will have a box of pods that I won’t be using. Free to good home… That is if you don’t care about your control! I would not recommend this device to anyone!

Then of course there is the Customer Service issues. Lukewarm is a good description. Minimed has always been extremely responsive when I’ve had the occasional pump failure. When I called to switch back, my rep at Minimed was also a pumper. We talked about new infusion sets for me as I’m extremely lean (I’m a competitive Figure Bodybuilder, thanks to my pump!). And, the Minimed infusion set will at least fit under a posing suit. While the pump itself is larger, there are cases that make it very discreet. And, they vibrate. Pods, while they hide under your clothes, beep at you! I’m sitting in meetings and all of the sudden my glute beeps because I’m using an extended bolus. How discreet is that, really? Sorry, I’m running on… But I am sooo unhappy with this thing… Best of luck to the Pod lovers, but I’m not one of them. I’m with you, Rob!

I am happy to say that I have been extremely pleased with the pod. It’s my first experience with a pump, and I don’t think I would have gone to a pump at all if not for the option of going tubeless. I have had no issues at all with customer support, despite having around a half-dozen pod failures. They are always quick to replace the pods, sometimes asking for the failed pod back and sometimes not.

Happily, I had no insurance issues (Empire BC/BS in New York, though I live in NC). I was quickly approved and quickly received my starter set. From the time I told my doctor I wanted to go with the pod, it was about three weeks until I had been approved, received my pods, trained with the educator and went live on insulin. After two months, my A1C went from 7.5 to 5.9. My average BG for the past 90 days is 124. I hope my next A1C will reflect that number (equivalent: 5.6).

I am active, playing basketball once a week. I’ve never lost a pod since I started wearing it on my inner thigh on basketball nights. I swim in the ocean quite often with no problems. I have knocked a couple of pods off, but I’ve never had one just fall off. I do wish they were attached to the adhesive in a couple of more spots, and maybe they will revise the design. I’ve had them hanging by a thread without a delivery failure.

I think the product will only get better, as this is an initial iteration, and I’m sure plenty is being learned by customer service. Then again, maybe another company will come out with something better. I feel for those who are having problems. Hopefully, there is a tubeless solution in your future.

I do agree with you that tubeless is really cool. But, I just can’t deal with Pod failures. I need them to be reliable. Period. With my lifestyle, I can’t afford for one to just randomly quit on me. I’m like a human perpetual motion machine, I can’t just stop and change a pod. With neither of my failures was I asked to send it back. Seemed like they didn’t give a hoot about why it failed. After 8 years with little issues, I had to go back to my Minimed pump. It may be slightly less convenient with the tubing, but that’s really the only drawback. It can be even more discreet than a Pod, it goes under my clothes just as easily and can be set on vibrate so it doesn’t make noise. Pod’s beep at you…

I know it’s all a matter of personal preference. If I had not had more reliable technology to compare it to, I may have been perfectly happy. I wish you continued success with your system! Your A1c ROCKS! Great job!