Insulin is a drug that can save the lives of many individuals who have diabetes. But taking insulin? Many people find it to be unsettling. For example, the vast majority of insulins must be administered through injection, which is a frightening prospect for a lot of individuals. In this section, we will talk about the smart insulin pen, which is an example of a digital health insulin gadget.
What is an Insulin Pen?
An insulin pen, in medicine, is often known as an all-in-one insulin injection tool. Today, there are numerous insulin pens accessible, however, they vary in various sizes and forms based on the brand and kind of insulin.
Insulin pens come in two varieties: disposable and reusable. In disposable pens, insulin is already present. You discard the gadget after the insulin has been fully absorbed. When the insulin cartridge in a reusable pen runs out, you may replace it with another one. Not all types of insulin, meanwhile, are available in cartridge form.
In general, a lot of individuals prefer using insulin pens over syringes. They are simpler to prepare a dosage for injection and are handier to take around. People with eyesight issues or diseases that impair the hands, including arthritis, will find it much simpler to prepare their dosage by turning a knob rather than juggle needles and vials.
The American Diabetes Association (ADA) revised its diabetes recommendations in 2022. The ADA originally suggested insulin pens rather than bottles and syringes. They also acknowledged that more recent gadgets, such as smart insulin pens, could play a role.
What is a Smart Insulin Pen?
A smart insulin pen is essentially an insulin pen that makes use of contemporary technology.
It’s not a novel concept to include electronics in an insulin pen to monitor insulin dosages. Smart insulin pens that can keep track of when insulin is used have been available since 2007. Some of the first insulin smart pens, however, required a USB drive to connect to a computer in order to function. Therefore, they weren’t the easiest to use gadgets.
However, smart insulin pens have become more user-friendly and “smarter” over time. Current Bluetooth-enabled smart insulin pens may exchange data with other applications to assist modify insulin dosages. Instead of merely smart insulin pens, these devices are now referred to as connected insulin pens (CIPs) in the ADA recommendations.
Smart Insulin Pen Features
For many people who use insulin smart pens (many daily injections), the major difficulties are:
- How much medication to inject?
- When to inject a dose?
It might be challenging for many diabetics to calculate insulin dosages appropriately. This may result in “insulin stacking,” which is when you inject more insulin while the insulin from earlier doses is still active. Insulin stacking may cause hypoglycemia (low blood sugar, also known as blood glucose).
An intelligent insulin pen can:
- Provide precise half-unit dosages.
- Assist in avoiding missing or skipped dosages.
- When determining how much medication to take with a meal or to lower a high blood sugar level, do the arithmetic for yourself.
- Record the date, time, and dosage for each dose, and set a reminder for when it’s time for the subsequent one.
- Notify you when your insulin has run out or has reached a temperature beyond the recommended range so you may buy a new cartridge.
- Send your medical staff diabetic statistics.
- Utilize well-known systems for monitoring diabetic data together with your watch or smartphone.
Have problems during the process of carb counting? To make things simpler for you, certain smart pens may provide several dosage calculator therapeutic modes, such as for those on fixed doses with a sliding scale or meal doses depending on the quantity and time of the meal.
You can get many of the advantages of an insulin pump with a smart pen, but without the increased expense or discomfort of wearing a gadget on your body.
How to Connect a Smart Insulin Pen?
At the moment, there are two primary methods by which an insulin pen may be connected. The primary deciding factor is whether the insulin pen is intended to be used more than once or is disposable.
Adapters and accessories for single-use insulin pens
These are devices that can measure the amount of insulin that has been used. They are designed to connect to disposable insulin smart pens. A smart insulin pen cap or a gadget that may be fitted over the dosing knob located at the bottom of an insulin pen are two examples of such accessories.
The quantity of insulin that you use may then be sent to an application that is stored on your mobile device. Some of these add-on devices can link with CGMs and make adjustments to your dosage depending on the level of blood sugar that you now have.
Reusable linked insulin pens
There are other smart insulin pens that may be reused that have the technology already integrated into them so they can link to an app on a smartphone. These insulin cartridges may be refilled several times. After a certain length of time, the component has to be swapped out for a new one. All-in-one devices, much like add-on devices, have the capability to link with CGMs and give dosage adjustments.
How to Use a Smart Insulin Pen?
The overall instructions for delivering an injection with a vial and syringe and insulin pen are similar in many ways. We suggest reading our thorough guide for further advice and methods for administering insulin injections.
The following steps should be followed to deliver an insulin injection using an insulin pen:
- Make sure you have the right kind of insulin in the pen and that it hasn’t expired. Additionally, ensure the pen or cartridge has enough insulin in it to deliver your dosage.
- If you’re using pre-mixed insulin, mix it by rolling the pen a few times between your palms. If you are on fast-acting or long-acting (clear) insulin, you may skip this step.
- Remove the cap and then attach a fresh pen tip needle. Use a fresh pen tip needle with every injection to lower the risk of infection and lipohypertrophy, as well as to make the procedure less uncomfortable.
- The plunger (the injection button) of the pen must be depressed with your thumb until a drop emerges after you tip the needle upward, dial one to two units, and prime the pen.
- Set the pen’s dial to the required insulin dosage.
- Pick a place to inject. Try to remain a few inches away from the belly button while injecting. Remember to alternate injection sites often and avoid overusing a single site as this might result in lipohypertrophy.
- To lower the chance of infection, keep your skin clean. Consult your healthcare provider for extra instructions if you have a high risk of infection.
- Between your thumb and fingers, pinch the area where the injection was administered.
- Make sure the needle is fully inserted by quickly pushing it into the skin at a 90° angle.
- Release the skin pinch and steadily press the injection button with your thumb until the insulin is released. To make sure that all of the insulin has been injected, keep the needle in the skin for a count of 10.
- Straighten out the needle.
- Put the pen tip needle in a sharps container, which you can get at your neighborhood drugstore, and dispose of it safely.
Please refer to the FDA’s sharps disposal guidelines for further details on how to properly dispose of a used pen tip needle. Never reuse needles and never keep old ones on pens.
As directed by your healthcare provider, check your blood sugar throughout the day, especially before you drive.
Should You Get One for Yourself?
Those who have diabetes type 1 or type 2 and who need numerous daily injections of long-acting or short-acting insulin may find that using a smart insulin pen is beneficial. You may want to think about using an insulin pen as a backup delivery option if you already use an insulin pump.
Your diabetes care team will be able to assist you in determining whether or not a smart insulin pen is a suitable option for you and whether or not your health insurance or Medicare will cover the cost of purchasing one. There are certain manufacturers that provide copay help in order to make the device more accessible financially.
There are now a few brands of smart insulin pens on the market, and others are currently in the process of being developed. Both the insulin pen and the insulin cartridges need a prescription in order to be purchased. Once solely accessible directly from the makers, smart pens are now widely available for purchase at pharmacies all throughout the United States.
If you’ve ever used an insulin pen or pump in the past, the majority of users claim that switching to a smart pen should not be difficult for you at all. If you find that it is difficult for you to adapt to new technologies, you may ask for assistance from the diabetes care team that you work with. They may instruct you on how to use it and ensure that it is configured appropriately for your requirements.
The Bottom Line
Many different kinds of technology have been accessible in the last ten years to assist persons with diabetes in managing their insulin usage. A good illustration of this is a smart insulin pen. These interconnected devices may support a variety of tasks, including dosage reminders, blood sugar monitoring, and insulin dose modifications.
There are several models of insulin smart pens available. To prescribe these gadgets, however, your doctor must be set up. Ask your physician whether utilizing a smart insulin pen to assist control your diabetes is a possibility for you if you’re interested in doing so.