Flex Insulin Pump- concept with promise


flex_2This is a bit off-topic although it is a great concept to put technology for diabetics into the mobile arena.  I am an insulin-taking diabetic and for those who are not in that special club it’s hard to understand how this can end up taking over your life.  Each day has to be planned around this need for insulin, and I am one of those diabetics who has never gotten comfortable with shooting up with insulin in front of others.

Insulin pumps are a good use of technology that both constantly monitor the wearer’s glucose level and administer the appropriate dosage of insulin automatically.  This is not only the easiest way to deal with the dependence on insulin but is a good way to keep the patient’s glucose level normal as possible all of the time.  The problem with pumps is how bulky and expensive they are which render them less portable for mobile folks.

The Flex Insulin Pump looks to change all of that, as it is basically a large bandage with an insulin pump inside.  It is designed to be worn under clothing and from the photos of the prototype looks quite good for daily use.  I know I’d certainly consider one of these babies for my own use so I hope these things get to market.  The problem with gadgets for the diabetic is we seldom see them actually come to market.

(via Yanko Design)



Pretty cool concept….
I didn’t go for the omnipod though as due to scarring I have at least 1/3 infusion set insertions go bad or not work at all…And for me it was too big to have it attached to me – too much of a protrusion… I wore a “dummy” omnipod for a couple of days – you might call the company and ask them to send you the test unit to try wearing it- it doesn’t have insulin in it, it just sticks on to give you a better idea of practicality….

As far as pumps and CGMS devices working together and pumps acting on CGMS information, I would not sign up for that (personally)… I just spent 8 months using a Dexcom and have seen frequent and constant errors and how finicky these machines can be (whereas my pump is pretty reliable, but I’m the computer that makes the decisions on boluses and basal changes)… Now I am on the Freestyle Navigator (2 weeks so far…Insurance covered both machines 100%…which makes our $1500/month COBRA payments hurt a little bit less) and it’s accuracy is wonderful, but since my Dexcom experience I’m wary of letting the machines “talk” and take action…


I have been using the Minimed 712 with continuous glucose monitoring for over 4 years (I started on a clinical trial). My insurance just started covering it in January. As for omnipod, I had problems with the adhesive and had it fall off several times. The Minimed is bullet proof. The main problem with technology is getting new products to market in the US, where we have litigation issues and a slow FDA approval process.

Now if I could just get the alarms to work as need on high glucose (it should be based on rate of increase and level not just level) and have the pump automatically give me insulin when in higher blood sugar.

BTW – I travel over 200,000 miles a year and the pump is 100% better than insulin injections. Also my 8 year old son is on the pump as it gives us freedom to not run to school and give him an injection.

Eddie W.

Back in the mid-1990’s, one of my co-workers was a tester for the pumps. He had one installed inside of his body near his waist. It worked well for him, and he was able to program it to do different things. It was always kinda funny to see him when he ate candy (Snickers bars were his addiction). He would take a couple of bites of the candy, then use a PDA of some type to punch in the info for a Snickers bar, then touch it to his side to program the pump.

Unfortunately, at some point, they changed the fluid and made it thicker. His pump wouldn’t work after that so he was back to manual monitoring, injecting, and laying off the Snickers bars. He had talked about exchanging the pump for another, but he left the company before that was done, and we’ve lost track of him over time. Hey, Matt, if you’re reading, give us a call!!

jimmie geddes

Supposedly, Omnipod is working with Abbot (makers of the Freestyle Navigator) to have a tubeless insulin pump/ continuous glucose meter.

I know Minimed has a pump that has a CM in it, but it still has tubing. Most people want to be wireless these days, lol.

I agree that insurance should cover the continuous glucose meters. I told my insurance company it was costing them more each time I had to be rushed to the hospital because of nocturnal hypoglycemia that it should make sense to them in terms of $$$. I know in terms of being a human they don’t really care, and sure enough after my 2nd time in the hospital they called me and told me they would cover it.

The peace of mind the monitor provides me is worth all the appeals I had to do to get it. I now go to bed without worrying about if I’m going to wake up from a low blood sugar, or scared that I might not wake up. With the projections (coolest feature of the navigator) on the Navigator it will alert me if it looks like my sugar is dropping fast, and also if it goes below 100 mg/dl.

I know I must be sending out all different frequencies with all the gadgets I carry, lol. Omnipod, Freestyle Navigator, iPhone 3G, and Treo 755p.

I love that both of my Diabetes gadgets are tubeless, wireless devices. Now if only they could make a converged device that would put all of these features into one device;)

Thanks again for posting the article!!

Pam Trader

@Jimmie: Continuous Glucose Monitoring so needs to be covered by insurance. I wore the MiniMed one for a week on a test run and although the transceiver isn’t quite as small as I’d like, it’s only a matter of time.

Since it transmitted readings to my pump, I foresee a near future when technology will automatically adjust insulin delivery rates for us, coming as close to a working pancreas as we can get!

jimmie geddes

I’ve had Type 1 Diabetes since I was 14 years old. Currently I’m on 2 wireless devices to control my Diabetes.

I use the omnipod for my Insulin pump. This is awesome. I used an Insulin pump a few years ago that had tubing, I felt so self conscious about having a tube, lol. I went back to injections for a few years. I now use the Omnipod, it is awesome.


For continuous glucose monitoring I use the Freestyle Navigator. It’s a small receiver that I stick on my arm, that communicates with a receiver that has a display on it, it is continuously reading my blood sugar, every minute. It also does projections, if it sees my blood sugar is dropping at a fast rate, or going up at a fast rate, an alarm goes off to let me know so I can take action before it gets either too low or too high. This has saved my life a few times already. It has woken me up a few times while I was sleeping because it detected my blood sugar was dropping, and the alarm sounded.

The Freestyle Navigator syncs wirelessly with my MacBook Air Parallels for the software) via the built in Bluetooth it has.

The omnipod was very easy to get, my insurance paid for the whole thing no problem.

The Freestyle Navigator took me almost a year to get, my insurance claimed it wasn’t “medically necessary”. My Dr. and I wrote appeal, after appeal. It took being in the emergency room 2 times in 3 months before they agreed to cover it. These 2 devices have made dealing with Diabetes a little easier.

Thanks so much for talking about this and letting people know about these kinds of gadgets!!!!

Jimmie Geddes, Editor

William Reed

Jimmie I appreciate reading your story about omnipod and insurance. I am on permanent disability with Medicare advantage in Houston. I am preparing for a battle as soon as I find the right endo at Kelsey-Seybold to help me. I am running out of places to do shots after 52 yaers as type 1.

James Kendrick

You guys are more tuned into this than I obviously. My statement was based on the last time I checked into pumps, admittedly a long time ago. The OmniPod looks perfect and I will be asking my doctor about it for sure. Many thanks.


If you like the Flex you should check out the OmniPod (myomnipod.com)…it’s on the market today…

Pam Trader

As an insulin pump wearer, James, I disagree with your statement that the pump impedes my mobility. It does the opposite – I have up to six days of insulin in my pump without having to pack needles and bottles of insulin and find a place to shoot up. It also makes me more flexible about when I have to eat, increasing my mobility, not decreasing it.

Pumps are only the size of a pager (anyone remember those?) and the OmniPod is tubeless – useing a PDA type device to manage the insulin rates. In fact, I suspect it spawned the idea of this Flex Pump.

But I am excited about the use of technology to control diabetes. Unfortunately, you are 200% correct when you say that this technology is expensive, which puts it out of the reach of many people who need it.

William Reed

Which pump do you have that allows 6 days before changing? I thought omnipod was just 72 hours.

I am on permanent disability with Medicare advantage in Houston. I am preparing for a battle as soon as I find the right endo at Kelsey-Seybold to help me. I am running out of places to do shots after 52 yaers as type 1.

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