Omnipod vs. Medtronic?
July 24, 2014 6:53 PM   Subscribe

Asking for my girlfriend, who will be checking and possibly replying to this post: I'm looking into starting on an insulin pump and I'm pretty sure I've narrowed it down to the Omnipod and the Medtronic Minimed. Looking for any first hand experience with either. I'm also open to any other suggestions to other pumps to consider as well as which ones to avoid.

I did use the Minimed maybe about 10 years ago. But when I was put on the pump, it wasn't long after I was first diagnosed so it didn't really work out. So I am somewhat familiar with that device in particular. I'm also considering the Omipod because I do like the idea of not having to worry about the tube coming loose and getting caught on everything.
posted by Venadium to Health & Fitness (8 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
My husband has had the Medtronic Paradigm for about 3 years now. He likes it a lot. It's small, fits easily in a pocket, and can be used with a CGM if you want. He also really likes how it does the calculations and how he can set it for a initial and then longer term bolus as well (not sure if the Omni can do the longer bolus). He uses a 24" tube and injects the port into his stomach, so he can just keep the pump in his pocket for dosing/checking/etc. He rarely gets the tube tangled in things. Sex was one of our concerns going into this, but he just disconnects the pump (he has a relatively low baseline insulin need, so being disconnected for an hour or so doesn't hurt his overall BG too much). (Sorry if that's TMI, but 'what to do with the pump during sex' is probably something you need to consider if you're sexually active and getting a pump....).

You can get a sample Omnipod from the company, and I recommend getting one. It's a lot bulkier than the Minimed Paradigm. Mr. Tech ended up not going with it due to how big it was. Also, he was concerned about the waste from tossing an entire pump every 2 weeks.

Your endocrinologist or diabetes specialist may have sample pumps you can carry around with you for a couple days to see how you like them. Mr. Tech did this with the couple he was considering and it really helped him make a decision.

Medtronic has been super great in the customer service department. We've rarely (only twice) had issues with shipments, but when we have, it's been solved very quickly and easily. Mr. Tech's always gotten someone friendly and competent when he calls.
posted by RogueTech at 7:06 PM on July 24, 2014

Response by poster: I actually did find out about the trial earlier today and I did order it so I should have it within a week. But the size is one thing I'm not too sure about. It did look a little bit bulkier than I'd be comfortable with.

Also, I do remember dealing with Medtronic customer service on more than one occasion in the past and I was always very happy with them.
posted by Venadium at 7:31 PM on July 24, 2014

I've been wearing the Medtronic Minimed (Paradigm) for five years. I sampled both the Minimed and the Omnipod before making my decision.

Omnipod really pushed the "tubeless" aspect of the pump, which I suppose was nice, but I really don't find the tubing of the Minimed as annoying as they suggested I would. I think my biggest issue with the Omnipod was the possibility of forgetting the control device somewhere. If you don't have it with you when you go out, you can't give yourself any boluses (although it still continues to give you your basal insulin). Maybe I'm just an abnormally forgetful person, but between everything I carry on a daily basis I could absolutely see myself leaving the control device at home when going out or putting it down somewhere and forgetting where it was, causing a tremendous amount of stress. So I think that's something to be aware of.

The other issue I had with the Omnipod was that it strictly limits you to 72 hours of wear. Technically I know that you're only supposed to wear any given site for three days, but I've never had problems wearing sites for longer (four days or even four and a half). That helps conserve supplies, which I think it always a concern for people with diabetes. (My endocrinologist teases me for how much people with diabetes hate wasting any diabetes supplies.) So the thought of being forced to change it every 72 hours makes me a little uncomfortable. If a site goes bad before that 72 hour period, I know Omnipod will generally replace it, but I felt paranoid about being stuck without extra pods at some point. So that was why I decided against the Omnipod.

I will agree with RogueTech about Meditronic's customer service. It's excellent. I can't think of a single problem I've had that they haven't resolved quickly and painlessly. I've had to replace several pumps because of cracks (they still worked but Medtronic tells you to get a new one if yours cracks because it can eventually cause issues with the pump), and they've always been extremely efficient about overnighting new pumps.

My biggest complaint about Medtronic is that I think they've become complacent in their success. Because they're the biggest pump manufacturer, they seem (IMO) to rest on their profits instead of innovating. The new pumps they've released in the last five years don't seem much different stylistically than the pump I got five years ago, which is a bit ridiculous I think. Their just doesn't seem to be the innovation that you see with a company like Tandem, which produces the T-Slim. The Minimed is fine and easy to use, but it's not very forward thinking.

The biggest difference with the newest pumps is the integrated CGM and the low glucose suspend. Your girlfriend should think about whether she wants a CGM as well. If so, I highly recommend the Dexcom CGM over Medtronic. I think it's much more accurate and sensitive to both highs and lows than the Medtronic. So that sort of defeats one of Medtronic's big selling points of an integrated CGM, if the CGM isn't as accurate as you could get elsewhere. I've also heard very mixed things about the Medtronic low glucose suspend.

Ultimately, your girlfriend should see about sampling both pumps. That's how I made the decision five years ago. I think Medtronic may be more wary about giving out sample pumps for trial now than they were when I tried them, but it seems like if you basically say that you won't buy without trying it out, they'll let you do it through your endocrinologist's office. I think that by trying it out she'll be able to figure out what she likes and doesn't like and what she values and doesn't.

I understand where she is since I just went through the process of deciding a new pump. (I'm almost certainly going with the T-Slim once my pregnancy is over.) It can be a stressful time when you think about how you'll be living with it for four years at least.

Best of luck to her! Memail me if you have any questions!
posted by McPuppington the Third at 8:22 PM on July 24, 2014 [2 favorites]

My boyfriend never actually tried the medtronic devices, but he has been using omnipod for the past 4 years (about 2 models worth.) He has had a very good experience with omnipod- pods and pump. The omnipods last him about 3 days, and he can extend them a bit to get the last bits of insulin out of them. I am not sure about other manufacturers. The only downside to using the omnipod is that the insulin is kept "on site." So, the insulin is in the pod, not in the pdm/controller. There have been times when his pod has failed, and we've had to do our best to extract the insulin back out of the pods. With other pumps, you still need to change the site about every 3 days, but the insulin is not stored in the pod which gives you greater flexibility. We always seem to be away from home, on vacation, with the tiniest amount of insulin, when he needs to suck it out of an old (but fairly new) pod and put it into a new new pod to, you know, survive.
posted by mochilove at 10:53 PM on July 24, 2014

My wife has been a Medtronic user for about 19 years, since way back when they were Mimimed. The company seems to send it's employees to Comcast for customer service training and for that reason alone I'd look closely at any alternatives.

Some blog posts regarding our experiences with Medtronic.
posted by COD at 4:48 AM on July 25, 2014

I'm on the Minimed Paradigm, and have been for about 7 years. The pump has been a life changer for me - not only in terms of control (A1c has been 6.3 for the past six years) but also in terms of social situations (I can graze at cocktail parties without ducking into a bathroom to shoot up or risking a high) and flexibility (last minute exercise plans? No problem!) I find it very easy to use, I like the coordination with Medtronic's CGM, and I was part of the clinical trials for their new version with low glucose suspend, which I think is great. The new CGMs are super easy to wear, as well. Medtronic customer service has been excellent and prompt and I have basically had zero issues.

My only suggestions for improving the device are that the bolus wizard doesn't have the ability to set an insulin resistance feature. So it can calculate a bolus based on active insulin in your body, glucose, and carbs - but, as I think many of us do, I need additional insulin if I have a very high sugar - in my case, over 250 mg/dl. I'd love for that to be automatically calculated so I don't have to override it. And I do find the insertion comes loose in extreme exercise times - but I am also the sweatiest human I know, so if I am doing an hour of cardio and an hour of weights at the gym, I am probably doing three people's worth of sweating. ;)

I couldn't recommend anything more highly.
posted by mccn at 6:14 AM on July 25, 2014

From an "other pump" perspective, I use an Animas Ping and I would highly recommend it. The reasons I chose Animas over Medtronic (even though the latter had a bigger reservoir and I use a lot of insulin) were that the Ping was waterproof, the customer service was excellent, and the remote bolusing feature. (My knowledge is of what is available in Canada.)

Waterproof: have taken the pump into the pool and ocean, no problem (except some slight worries about what would happen if it came unclipped).

Service: When something goes wrong, I can get a new pump within two hours (unless I am out of the country, which is when something always seems to go wrong, but they do offer a "loaner" service where you can borrow a second pump while on vacation). The reps are very kind. When I first got the pump, I was able to negotiate an essentially lifetime discount on supplies because I did not have insurance but got a certain stipend from the government to cover supplies, and they worked it out with me so that the stipend would cover all the supplies Animas provided.

Remote Bolusing: My favourite thing ever. Does your girlfriend wear a lot of dresses? If so, getting a pump with remote bolusing, to me, is essential. You would think "oh, it just means a quick trip to the washroom to bolus," but the convenience is so much more than that when the pump is stashed away in underwear under a dress. To me, having to find a washroom every time takes away one of the most convenient aspects of a pump, which is the bolus as you go idea. As I have worn a dress every single day of July, I would never, ever consider a pump that does not have this feature. Animas' is pretty good. Sometimes it fails when there is something big and solid in between the sensor and the pump, but it can deliver from several feet away. When I was choosing a pump, the Minimed had no remote bolusing feature, but I do not know if that is still the case. To me, Animas is the best of both worlds - you can bolus either remotely or on the pump itself, whereas Omnipod is only remote and Medtronic only on the pump. The remote also saves and graphs statistics. Only negative is that often there are many screens and much button-pushing, but I don't know what's out there that's better.

I believe that the new Animas Vibe is paired with a CGM.

If your girlfriend would like more opinions, I highly recommend the Diabetes Online Community, if she's not connected already. As well as many site and countless blogs, there is a weekly chat on Twitter from 9-10pm on Wednesdays using the hashtag #dsma (Diabetes Social Media Advocacy) that is super helpful from an information and support/morale perspective. The hashtag can also be used at any time to connect with people. I'd be happy to answer any questions via MeMail.

Sorry for the novel!
posted by ilana at 10:29 AM on July 25, 2014

//Minimed had no remote bolusing feature//

The Miedtronic Paradigm does have a remote control, although I think they may sell it as an accessory and not with the pump itself.
posted by COD at 11:54 AM on July 25, 2014

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