September 15, 2023

What Is a Closed-Loop System?

Learn all about closed-loop diabetes management solutions, combining the use of a CGM and insulin pump, in this guide from US MED.


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Home / Living with Diabetes / What Is a Closed-Loop System?

No matter how long you’ve lived with type 1 or type 2 diabetes, managing these conditions is far from simple. If you have either of these diseases, you need to constantly check your glucose levels, create and follow a diabetes diet, and keep track of the supplies you need for diabetes management. On top of that, many diabetes patients must administer insulin shots multiple times per day. (It’s no wonder that people with diabetes are 20 percent more likely than the average person to suffer from anxiety!)

That said, ongoing scientific and technological advances continue to make life easier for people with diabetes. For example, consider hybrid closed-loop insulin pumps—systems that include a continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) system and an insulin pump. These components can work with each other to automatically manage some aspects of blood glucose management for diabetes patients, effectively acting as an “artificial pancreas.”

Before investing in a hybrid closed-loop insulin pump, you should thoroughly understand these systems and how they can improve your life. With that in mind, read on for all the information you’re looking for on this cutting-edge approach to insulin therapy.

What Is the Difference Between Open-Loop Insulin Delivery and Closed-Loop Insulin Pumps?

If you have diabetes and use insulin to manage it, you’ve likely used open-loop insulin delivery—even if you haven’t referred to it by this name. Any type of manually controlled insulin delivery method is an open-loop device—insulin pens and traditional insulin pumps both fall into this category.

On the other hand, hybrid closed-loop insulin pumps operate automatically and continuously to replicate the pancreas’ normal production of insulin. These systems work as follows:

  • At a regular interval, your CGM system measures glucose levels and reports them to your insulin pump.
  • The insulin pump responds to this data by adjusting or pausing its insulin output.
  • The CGM notes any changes in your glucose level and sends data on these changes to the insulin pump, starting the process over again.

What Are the Benefits of Hybrid Closed-Loop Insulin Pumps?

Obviously, hybrid closed-loop insulin pumps wouldn’t be worth using if they didn’t offer some concrete benefits. Some prominent perks associated with these systems include:

  • Less decision fatigue. When you have diabetes, everyday life can be exhausting—and a big part of that is the sheer number of decisions people must make when they have this disease. While hybrid closed-loop insulin pumps can’t eliminate the decision-making associated with diabetes management, their ability to adjust background/basal insulin can cut down on this source of frustration.
  • A minimal risk of lows. According to scientific research, hybrid closed-loop insulin pumps can reduce a user’s risk of low blood glucose levels. When used alongside a CGM system, insulin pumps can spot downward trends in blood sugar levels and reduce or stop their flow of insulin in response.
  • Better monitoring/trend responses. Hybrid closed-loop insulin pumps track users’ blood glucose trends over the long term. In many cases, these systems can also display this information on a mobile app. When they have access to this information, people with diabetes can make informed decisions about managing this condition.

Things to Consider When Choosing an Insulin Pump

Like any potential change to your diabetes treatment regimen, switching to a hybrid closed-loop insulin pump isn’t something you should do on a whim. Before you decide to use one of these systems, be sure to think about:

  • The type of system you want. Generally speaking, there are two types of hybrid closed-loop insulin pumps: pumps that use insulin tubes and pumps that don’t. If you are highly active or concerned about the possibility of tube damage, a tubeless pump may be the right fit for you.
  • Your overall familiarity with technology. Hybrid closed-loop insulin pumps are built on highly advanced technology, but user errors and system failures are still causes for concern. Because of that, you’ll need to have at least a basic understanding of technology to use one of these systems successfully.
  • How willing you are to make adjustments. While hybrid closed-loop insulin pumps can automate insulin delivery much of the time, they’re not designed to work without user input. Instead, you’ll need to regularly adjust and calibrate this system to get the best possible results.

Omnipod 5: A Closer Look

At this point, you’ve had a chance to read up on the basic principles behind hybrid closed-loop insulin pumps and learned what to prioritize in these systems. Now, let’s shift gears and look at one of the most widely-used components in today’s hybrid closed-loop insulin pumps—the Omnipod® 5 Automated Insulin Delivery System.

Like other insulin pumps, the Omnipod 5 is capable of providing a steady flow of insulin to users. This system stands apart from the competition thanks to its tubeless, waterproof Pod*, which can continuously deliver insulin for up to three days.

Are the Omnipod 5 and Dexcom G7 Compatible?

The Omnipod 5 system can’t function as a standalone hybrid closed-loop insulin pump—you’ll also need to buy a CGM system if you want to use these capabilities. While you might assume you can purchase the Dexcom G7 CGM System for this purpose, the truth is more complicated than you might think. 

Currently, the Omnipod 5 and Dexcom G7 CGM System are not compatible. Because of that, you’ll need to look for another CGM system if having an Omnipod-based hybrid closed-loop insulin pump is a priority for you.

The good news is that this is expected to change in the future. As of fall 2023, Insulet has stated that integration between the Omnipod 5 and Dexcom G7 CGM System is in the works. However, no date for the rollout of this integration has been formally announced.

Learn More About Insulin Pumps

Hybrid closed-loop insulin pumps may not be right for everyone with diabetes, but they can make life considerably easier for many people living with this condition. We hope this article has helped you learn a thing or two about the potential benefits of using these systems.

Of course, there’s always more to know about insulin and insulin pumps. Whether you want to find out how insulin works, read about the differences between insulin pumps and CGMs, or learn how to handle an insulin overdose, US MED has you covered!

Are you thinking about switching to a hybrid closed-loop insulin pump? US MED can help with that, too. We offer a comprehensive lineup of insulin pumps and CGM systems—not to mention any other diabetes supplies you might need.

 

*The Pod has an IP28 rating for up to 25 feet for 60 minutes. The controller is not waterproof.

Shirley DeLeon Certified Diabetes Care & Education Specialist

Medical Review by Shirley DeLeon, Certified Diabetes Care and Education Specialist

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