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HealthInfo Waitaha Canterbury

Insulin pumps

An insulin pump is a small electronic device that delivers insulin into your body. It's an alternative to insulin injections.

Getting an insulin pump

In New Zealand, PHARMAC funds insulin pumps for some people with type 1 diabetes, neonatal diabetes, post pancreatectomy or cystic fibrosis-related diabetes. Talk to your diabetes specialist team to find out more about the funding criteria.

If you aren't eligible for a funded pump, you can pay for one yourself. A self-funded pump costs $7,000 to $10,000 plus ongoing costs for infusion sets and cartridges of $3,000 to $4,000 per year.

Using an insulin pump

The insulin pump is attached to a narrow plastic tube that is inserted under your skin and taped in place. It's often kept in your pocket or on your belt.

The insulin pump only delivers fast-acting insulin, so you need to wear it day and night.

The insulin pump is typically set up in blocks of time to deliver small amounts of insulin. When you need an insulin dose for food or a high glucose level, you enter information into the pump. Your diabetes specialist team provides education and helps you set up your insulin pump.

Getting help with your insulin pump

If you have any questions about your health or your treatment, contact your diabetes team.

If you're unwell, follow your sick day plan.

If you have a technical difficulty with your insulin pump, call the company who provided it. You may need to use injections for your insulin while the pump problem is worked out.

Advantages and disadvantages of insulin pumps

Advantages

Disadvantages

Most people have fewer highs and lows. Blood sugar levels are more often in your target range.

You'll need to have your pump attached to you all the time. You can only take it off for small breaks, like when you’re swimming or showering.

You won’t have to inject as often.

The tubing can sometimes get blocked, so you might need to change it at short notice.

You can adjust your insulin more easily before, during and after exercise.

You'll need to take time to learn about your pump, especially when you first get it.

You'll have more flexibility in what, when and how much you eat.

There is always a small risk of infection where the sensor goes under your skin.

You'll be able to be more accurate when you’re bringing down high sugar levels.

You'll still need to inject insulin sometimes.

Hybrid closed loop feature

Some insulin pumps have a feature called “hybrid closed loop”. This means that when you buy a continuous glucose monitoring system (CGMS), data is transmitted to the pump to automatically adjust the insulin dose. With this system, you still need to enter information when you eat or have a high glucose level.

A CGMS cost $4,500-5,000 per year and this is not currently funded.

  HealthInfo recommends the following pages

On the next page: Storing and handling insulin

Written by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Page created February 2023.

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