The letter informed us that apart from us as patients, the three diabetes nurses that are involved in pumping and H himself would participate in the meeting. Apparently the company, in collaboration with the hospital, had developed a new insulin pump that would go into clinical trials at the hospital next year. As the company was new on this field, without much experience with insulin treatment, they would like diabetics to advise them about views on pumps in general, as well as evaluate their prototype regarding the idea behind the concept, the design, and other wishes or needs in connection to pump treatment. They would want to present the prototype and get a patient to try it. That sure sounded interesting!
Yesterday was the day for the meeting. This was the first meeting in
When the representatives presented this new “single use insulin pump” to us, they soon learned that some parts of the concept/design was not ideal. We also had to turn our minds into not seeing this new product as an insulin pump in line with the pumps that we use, but rather sort of an insulin pen based infusion-device. It is an oval-shaped, wireless, plastic device with an electronic part that is reused when the “pump” is replaced. It is filled with insulin from an ordinary insulin pen – a very smart feature in my opinion. On its backside it is covered with an adhesive, and to insert the devise, you attach it to your skin, pres a button to introduce the needle into your skin, and remove said button, so that you are left with only this 7.5 x 5 cm (2.95 x 1.97 inches) and about 0.7 cm (0.3 inches) thick oval shaped devise. 20 minutes after insertion the “pump” will start infusion of insulin at a pre-set basal rate. A button on the devise allows you to administer boluses, each press on the button will release 1 U of insulin. The “pump” will continue working until empty, or about 3 days, at which time it will alarm you by vibrations, sound and light, to make you replace it. As you might have guessed by now, said presentation (of which I have only reported the most essential parts) led to quite a few points of criticism and comments. The devise did not enable you to change the basal rate, nor did it allow administration of “odd” numbers of units for boluses. This of course should be seen in the light of the target group of patients for this devise: Diabetics currently on a pen regimen, who may not yet be fit to take the full step into pumping, or who attends a hospital without the economic potential to pay for a pump (in DK, pumps and pumping supplies are financed by the hospital treating the patient) – this devise is supposedly cheaper than regular pumps although, of course, more expensive than traditional pen-treatment, and otherwise might benefit from a “near-pumping” regimen.
I tried the prototype on, without a needle in it, and it was actually surprisingly comfortable to wear, despite its size. I would like to show you a picture of it, but I will refrain from that as I am not sure whether the company has otherwise gone public with their new concept yet – and I wouldn’t want to give their idea away now, would I :-) We all filled a questionnaire about our own way of treating our D as well as our thoughts about the new devise, its advantages and limitations. The company representatives expressed that they had greatly benefited from the meeting, being a bit surprised about our main point of criticism (the lack of the possibility to change the basal rate as needed), and they would take our response into consideration in the ongoing development of the devise.
H returned to close the meeting by handing us another questionnaire, this one being related to his own project on developing a sensor to alarm diabetics about hypoglycaemia – also an interesting project indeed. The nurses handed out envelopes containing a tube to sample blood for an HbA1C and a question about our quality of life before and after the pump. This is for their continual specification on the regulation of pump users. Thus, this was an afternoon of multiple questionnaires as well as a demonstration that the hospital, and especially H, is up front in research and development when it comes to diabetes :-)