by Gary Scheiner MS, CDE
I fit in perfectly on the East Coast. I walk fast. I think fast. I act fast. It lets me get a lot done in as little time as possible, which leaves more time for a little something called LEISURE. So naturally, I’m into whatever saves time without sacrificing quality.
For those of us who use an insulin pump, changing out the insulin and tubing is one of the more time-consuming tasks we have to endure. When Asante (makers of the Snap Pump) came to me and asked for a comparison of the time it takes to change out the various pumps, I thought, why not? This is right up my proverbial alley. So, we gathered all six pumps that are currently available in the US and put them through time trials… similar to how we measured how long it takes (and the number of button-pushes required) to program a bolus on each pump and reported the results in our Thinking Like A Pancreas blog on December 4th, 2014.
To be as fair as possible, we had two of our clinicians do a time trial on each pump and averaged the time required to completely change out the insulin cartridge and prime the tubing. Since infusion sets vary from user to user, we stopped the clock at the point at which a drop appeared at the end of the infusion set tubing; there was no infusion set insertion or “cannula prime” performed. We started each trial with a pump that was already loaded with a partially-filled insulin cartridge and tube attached and then proceeded with the change-out. The supplies for performing the change-out (including 23″ tubing for each pump, except OmniPod) were kept in their packaging and placed next to the pump.
AccuChek (Combo): 3 minutes, 44 seconds
Animas (Ping): 2 minutes, 26 seconds
Asante (Snap): 0 minutes, 47 seconds
Insulet (OmniPod): 2 minutes, 9 seconds
Medtronic (530G): 1 minute, 56 seconds
Tandem (t:slim): 5 minutes, 22 seconds
To be fair, it should be noted that with the OmniPod, the change-out time includes the cannula insertion and cannula prime since these steps are automated and cannot be separated from the pod filling process. Also, Tandem will be speeding up the tubing prime in their next-generation pump (currently awaiting FDA approval), which should reduce the total change-out time by a couple of minutes.
Nevertheless, Asante knew what they were doing when they asked us to do this. Their motto, “Less prep time, more life time” is very true. Use of pre-filled glass insulin cartridges and pressure-primed tubing really makes change-outs a snap. And a fast snap at that.
I calculated how much time is spent per year replacing insulin and priming tubing, assuming 120 change-outs per year. Here’s what I came up with:
Asante: 1.6 hours/year
Medtronic: 3.9 hours/year
OmniPOd: 4.3 hours/year
Animas: 4.9 hours/year
AccuChek: 7.5 hours/year
Tandem: 10.7 hours/year
I can think of a number of things I would rather do with several extra hours each year instead of performing pump maintenance. Like returning 45 e-mails, 6 phone calls and 2 faxes and writing a blog. Or spending the day biking along the trails just outside of Philly. Or maybe watching an entire season of “The Walking Dead” with my kids. The choice is mine.
And so is the time.