Insulin pump can be controlled with an app

The feature makes it easier for people to manage their diabetes discretely and conveniently.

The FDA has just approved an app that lets insulin pump users deliver doses remotely, making it easier for them to manage their diabetes discretely and conveniently.

Insulin pump: Insulin is a hormone that helps convert blood sugar into energy. Diabetes is a condition where the pancreas either doesn’t produce enough insulin or the body doesn’t know how to use the insulin it does produce.

Chronic high blood sugar can lead to many health problems, including blindness, organ failure, and death, so people with diabetes must get regular injections of insulin to keep blood sugar levels manageable.

Delivering a bolus dose is the most common reason users interact with an insulin pump.

Tandem Diabetes Care

Some people will test their blood sugar and then manually inject insulin when needed, but others rely on an insulin pump. These small devices deliver slow-acting “basal” insulin into the body all the time, plus a dose of fast-acting “bolus” insulin at mealtimes.

The challenge: Programming an insulin pump to deliver a bolus dose is the most common reason users interact with the devices, according to diabetes tech maker Tandem Diabetes Care.

But many pump users attach the devices to their bras or underwear, which makes accessing them a hassle, especially in public. The need to deal with the pump can also “out” a person as diabetic when they might rather keep that information private.

What’s new? Tandem has now gotten FDA clearance for an app that lets insulin pump users manage their doses remotely.

This app already comes with Tandem’s t:slim X2 insulin pump, but users can only use it to monitor the device and their blood sugar levels. That’ll change this spring, when Tandem starts pushing out a new feature update that lets them program or cancel bolus doses through the app.

The feature will only be available to users of that pump with an iPhone 12 running iOS 14, or a Samsung Galaxy S20 with the Android 11 OS, though Tandem says it is working on other phones and software.

The big picture: Tandem’s app is just the latest example of daily innovation we’re seeing in the world of diabetes management — other groups are developing oral insulins, weekly insulin shots, needle-free testing kits, and artificial pancreases that control insulin automatically.

A reliable way to prevent or cure some kinds of diabetes might not be too far off, either, based on recent successes using stem cells, immunotherapy, and proteins injected into the brain.

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