“Design is a funny word. Some people think design means how it looks. But of course, if you dig deeper, it's really how it works … To design something really well, you have to get it. You have to really grok what it’s all about. It takes a passionate commitment to really thoroughly understand something, chew it up, not just quickly swallow it. Most people don’t take the time to do that.”
Those were the words of the late Steve Jobs in an interview with Wired in February 1996. More than a decade later, Tandem Diabetes Care took this idea to heart with its new t:slim touchscreen insulin pump, which it designed after conducting a remarkable 4,000 in-depth interviews with patients, healthcare providers, and caregivers. Tandem really wanted to get inside the minds of people who take insulin – pumpers and non-pumpers alike. The new pump was approved by the FDA in November 2011 (see new now next in diaTribe #38) and launched just last month. I was able to get trained on the t:slim at Tandem’s San Diego headquarters soon after it launched, and what follows is my experience wearing the device over the past week. So far, three themes have emerged: some clear differences from other pumps, a focus on simplicity and convenience, and an attention to safety.
Part One: Differences from Other Pumps
- iPhone-like touchscreen
- Rechargeable battery
- Highly customizable “personal profiles” for insulin delivery
From the minute I opened the shipping box, it was clear that the t:slim pump was somewhat different from other pumps I’ve used – included with the pump were a USB charging cable and adapters for both the wall and car. Even the included user manual comes on a credit-card-like thumb drive. But the most obvious difference between the t:slim and other pumps is the touchscreen. I found this to be the most compelling feature of the pump and a major departure from the button-driven devices I’ve used since I began pumping in 2002.
Related articles and resources
- Changes affect insulin pumpers, test strips (blog)
- T:slim brings smartphone feel to insulin pump (blog)
- diatribe newsletter: Research and product news for people with diabetes (PDF)
- Insulin pump comparison chart from DiabetesHealth.com (PDF)