There’s no way around insulin’s importance in managing Type 1 Diabetes. Insulin pumps are a very convenient and comfortable option for insulin delivery, especially for children who struggle with the injections.
In this blog post, we’ll be comparing two popular insulin pumps – the Omnipod 5 and the Tandem t:slim x2. We’ll discuss the features of each pump, their cost, their performance, the pros and cons, and provide you with the information you need to make an informed decision about which pump might be right for your child.
Who Are These Insulin Pumps For?
Insulin pumps may not be suitable for all children with type 1 diabetes, and the decision to use an insulin pump should be made in consultation with your child’s doctor.
Having said that, doctors typically recommend insulin pumps for children who have difficulty achieving adequate blood sugar control with injections, or for those who require multiple daily injections of insulin. Insulin pumps can provide more flexibility in insulin dosing and timing, as well as more accurate insulin delivery, compared to injections.
Omnipod 5 Vs T:slim x2
The Omnipod 5 and Tandem T:slim X2 are two of the most popular insulin pumps available for adults and children with Type 1 Diabetes. Both are FDA approved for use in children and teens.
We’ve compared the two pumps based on the following factors:
- Price & Monthly Cost
- Usability & Comfort
- Popularity & User Experience
What makes the Omnipod 5 stand out is that it’s the only tubeless automated insulin delivery pump with an integrated CGM. Every other automated insulin delivery device available right now has some sort of tubing for the delivery of insulin. The device eliminates the inconvenience of needing to disconnect during any kind of sports/exercise, especially swimming.
Approved for children as young as two years old, the Omnipod gives you greater control over your child’s glucose range by giving you the option to customize your target glucose levels. You can set it anywhere between 110 to 150 mg/dL (with increments of 10 mg/dL). It also allows setting up eight different programs at different times of the day, giving you the flexibility to adjust the settings based on your child’s schedule.
The Omnipod 5 boasts a feature called SmartAdjust. Built into every pod, the algorithm auto-adjusts the basal insulin rates every 5 minutes based on the CGM’s current and projected glucose levels. Do keep in mind that while in automated mode, the user cannot manually adjust the basal rate.
This pump also comes with an activity feature. This mode automatically raises the target glucose to 150 mg/dL and decreases insulin delivery for some time (1-24 hours), determined by the user. After this time has gone by, the pump returns to the original target glucose range.
Even though the Omnipod 5 can be connected and used with Dexcom G6, it is incompatible with the Dexcom G6 receiver. Users are required to use the Dexcom mobile app on their smartphones. Or to use Gluroo which integrates with both the Omnipod 5 and the Dexcom G6, allowing you to see all of your child’s data in one place.
So, to summarize, here are the main features of Omnipod 5:
- Tubeless device.
- Customizable target glucose levels.
- Smart adjustment of basal rate.
- Activity mode.
- Hybrid closed-loop pump with Dexcom G6 integration.
- Approved for children two and older.
Tandem’s basal rate is controlled using the Control-IQ technology. Control-IQ automatically increases basal insulin rates when glucose levels rise above 160 mg/dL and decreases basal insulin rates if glucose levels are predicted to go below 112.5 mg/dL. This information it gets from the Dexcom G6, just like the Omnipod 5.
The target glucose level for Control-IQ is set to 112.5 mg/dL for all Tandem T:slim x2 users. The target level cannot be customized. However, users are given two special modes: a Sleep Mode that keeps levels between 112.5-120 mg/dL and an Activity Mode with a target range of 140-160 mg/dL.
Another special feature of the T:slim X2 is the automated and manual boluses it can administer when it detects a spike in glucose levels. When the device anticipates a Dexcom G6 sensor reading of 180 mg/dL or more Control-IQ automatically delivers a correction bolus (with a max of one per hour).
Similar to other pumps, Control-IQ has an in-built activity mode. This decreases basal insulin delivery to keep glucose levels between 140 and 160 mg/dL. Additionally, insulin delivery will be stopped completely when blood glucose values go below 80 mg/dL. On the other hand, correction boluses are administered when blood glucose is over 180 mg/dL.
Control-Q can be connected to the Dexcom G6 system via Bluetooth. The devices can communicate with one another for automated insulin delivery.
One downside this pump has when compared to the Omnipod 5, aside from the fact that it isn’t tubeless, is that it can only be used by children six and older.
Let’s review the main features again:
- Control IQ technology for basal rate adjustment based on predicted BGL fluctuations.
- Sleep & activity modes.
- Automated correction boluses.
- Hybrid closed-loop pump with connection to Dexcom G6.
- Approved for children 6 and older.
The Omnipod 5 has a built-in algorithm for insulin delivery control. It cannot be manually controlled, and unlike the Tandem T:slim, it does not deliver boluses in case of sugar level spikes. Instead of predicting future sugar levels, the Omnipod 5 works by correcting fluctuations in glucose levels as they come up.
In simpler words, it works perfectly while sleeping and during the day to ensure that sugar levels stay as consistent as possible. However, it is less aggressive in controlling high spikes in blood glucose levels.
In terms of performance, for the most part, the Omnipod 5 has been shown to provide consistent and accurate insulin delivery, with minimal instances of pod failures. However, just like with any pump, there have been instances of malfunction reported by some users, but what we also found is that these users are usually able to get the appropriate assistance from Omnipod support to help fix the issue.
Nevertheless, Omnipod has some guidelines and suggestions on how to best use the pump to reduce the risk of malfunctions or other issues like skin infections or allergies.
Tandem pumps have a proven track record with their predictive Control IQ system. The interface is simple to use, and programming it to your liking is absolutely no issue. The algorithm works right out of the box, and the device does not need to “learn” your glucose and insulin needs. The bolus features, exercise, and sleep features help with even tighter control keeping fluctuations minimal (which is great for improving A1C).
The t:connect mobile app allows you to bolus from your smartphone without the need to use your t:slim X2 insulin pump. That increased flexibility means you can choose to wear your pump in more places and be more discrete about it.
Overall, the T:slim X2 has been seen to be better at controlling glucose levels because of Tandem’s tried and tested technology.
In terms of performance, this pump has been shown to be a reliable and effective option for children with type 1 diabetes, with consistent insulin delivery and few instances of pump failures. However, as with any medical device, there is always a risk of malfunctions or complications, and unlike the info we were able to collect on Omnipod’s customer service, there seems to be a fair amount of users complaining about Tandem’s customer service, especially when it comes to long waiting times when trying to call support.
3. Price & Monthly Cost
A box of 10 Omnipod 5 Pods retails for $753.53 but can often be found at local pharmacies and online retailers for as low as $550. Each pod lasts around three days (depending on the number of units you use daily).
This does not take into account the Dexcom G6 equipment that is also needed for monitoring. A box of 3 Dexcom G6 sensors retails at $400 (each sensor lasts ten days). The estimated sum is $4,800 per year, or $400 a month.
This brings the monthly cost to around $950-1150 if you purchase the sensors and pods at retail.
For using the Tandem t:slim X2, you’ll need to get its supplies along with the Dexcom G6 system. Just like most insulin pumps, this can be quite costly, even with insurance.
Without insurance, the Tandem t:slim X2 pump itself has a retail price of $4,000. However, some insurance plans cover almost 80% of this cost.
The Dexcom G6 CGM uses 10-day sensors and 90-day transmitters. This brings the estimated annual cost of use to about $6,000 per year, or $500 a month.
The device comes with a 4-year warranty against defects in materials and workmanship under normal use.
4. Usability & Comfort
Being the first-ever hybrid closed-loop insulin pump that does not rely on any plastic tubing or cannula attached to the body is a big upside for the Omnipod 5.
The fact that it can be controlled via its Android smartphone app (and send data to Gluroo, which can then pass that information to both iOS and Android devices) just adds to the convenience of its use as it eliminates the need for a separate controller unit.
This makes it the smallest and most portable system there is for insulin delivery that can comfortably be worn under clothes on the thigh or tummy. In fact, a lot of users describe the Omnipod 5 as ‘more or less of an AirPods case attached to you.’
Another point to keep in mind is that Omnipod 5 can hold up to 200 units of insulin. This is enough for most, especially for kids and teens. However, depending on your child’s usage, it will require changing pods every 2 to 3 days, which you should always attach on different sites to avoid skin-related complications.
Tandem’s t:slim x2 is a tubed (or tethered) insulin pump. It relies on a long plastic cannula to deliver insulin into the body. It consists of a color touchscreen display with an innovative insulin cartridge design.
Compared to the Omnipod 5, the T:slim X2 can hold up to 300 units of insulin.
The device itself is quite small and can easily be carried around clipped or attached using a waist belt for convenience.
Tandem provides the option to choose between 5 different infusion sets of different sizes and materials so you can find the one that best suits your child.
The device comes with a rechargeable battery, so you don’t have to worry about disposing of it, although you should change sites frequently.
5. Popularity & User Experience
After researching and reading dozens of reviews from multiple Omnipod 5 and t:slim users, here are some of the benefits of each pump for kids.
For most kids, the idea of a tubeless device is very appealing. Kids are so much more likely than adults to get tubes stuck on doorknobs, clothing, or in drawers or even drop the pump while playing sports, which is why the Omnipod 5 has no competition when it comes to convenience.
Another benefit of this pump is its discretion. This may be especially important for kids who don’t want to stand out too much and have their peers bombard them with questions regarding their pump. The Omnipod 5 is more discrete and can be hidden under clothes.
The amount of time it takes to change sites was also mentioned often. Omnipod’s pods are easier and faster to change than the t:slim.
The Control IQ feature seems to be a hit with most people, with a lot of people claiming that it did a better job at controlling BGL levels than the Omnipod 5, although this was not a unanimous opinion.
This pump may be an attractive option for kids because of its customization options. The t:slim offers customizable screen protectors and cases for kids to play around with and fully customize their pump to their liking.
Also, a lot of people didn’t mind the tubing and said that they enjoyed being able to remove the pump once in a while, especially while showering or playing sports.
But ultimately, both pumps are considered great options, with most users agreeing that the final choice is up to personal preference, particularly when it comes to the tubes.
|Omnipod 5||T:slim x2|
|Basal Automation||Smart Adjust algorithm analyzes past insulin rates and the CGM’s current and projected glucose levels to adjust basal insulin rates every 5 minutes.||Control IQ increases basal insulin rates when glucose levels rise above 160 mg/dL and decreases basal insulin rates if glucose levels are predicted to go below 112.5 mg/dL.|
|Target Glucose||110-150 mg/dL|
(Customizable in increments of 10).
|112.5 mg/dL (Not customizable)|
|Bolus Administration||N/A||Autocorrection boluses are administered if glucose levels are expected to rise above 180 mg/dL in the next 30 minutes. A maximum of one bolus is administered per hour.|
|Estimated Price||$950 to 1150 /month||One-time $4000 device cost|
|Style||A small device that can be attached directly to the body using adhesives.||Traditional insulin pump with a touch screen control unit and tubed delivery system.|
|Usability||Can be controlled using the Samsung app, Omnipod Controller.||Controlled using an intuitive touchscreen interface|
Raises target glucose level to 150 mg/dL.
|Sleep mode: keep levels between 112.5 and 120 mg/dL|
Activity mode: Keeps levels between 140 and 160 mg/dL.
|Compatible CGM||Dexcom G6||Dexcom G6|
|Special Features||First and only tubeless insulin delivery pump.|
Customizable target glucose levels.
|Automatic and manual bolus administration to cover glucose level spikes.|
|Limitations||The adaptive basal rate takes time to adjust to changes in glucose levels resulting in significant variability at times. (stress, steroid medications, food spikes, illness)||Target glucose level cannot be adjusted.|
Delivery cannula and tube can be cumbersome and inconvenient for some.
Insulin pumps can be an excellent solution for children with diabetes. They offer flexibility and features to help optimize glucose control.
With all the options and features available, it’s important to weigh each device’s advantages and disadvantages and see which suits you and your child best. Some kids might be okay with tubing. Some might not. Some might prefer the option to remove the device when they play, while others might appreciate not having to worry about taking it off.
Hopefully, our article comparing these two pumps should help you make a better decision. Also, there are other insulin pumps fit for children that you may want to check out.