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Myth vs Reality: Insulin Pumps and Continuous Glucose Monitors

By Amanda Sheldon

Managing Editor

Posted:  8/1/2013 10:15 PM


Today, Amanda Griswold from the Customer Experience Team here at Medtronic joins us to talk about questions that people commonly have before going on an insulin pump and/or continuous glucose monitor (CGM). What are some questions you had before trying a pump/CGM and how do you feel now?

When first thinking about insulin pump therapy or continuous glucose monitoring, did you have questions or thoughts of what it might be like and how it would work? Maybe you were concerned about what the change in therapy would be like? Even though you may wear the pump and/or CGM, you still might not have all of the answers. Maybe friends ask you questions, and you’re never sure how to answer. Today, we look at a few misconceptions or myths people associate with the pump and CGM, and we tell you the real answers.


Myth: I don’t know a lot about technology, so I could never use an insulin pump
Reality: You know how the latest and greatest cell phone has functions varying from dialing a basic phone number to using an advanced app? That’s the way the pump can be, where you learn the necessary ways to use it in the beginning and one day you might want to begin to talk to your healthcare provider about utilizing the more advanced features. Wearing a pump can be simple. Using a pump is often as easy as entering your blood sugar and meal information and pressing enter. Your pump even does the work of keeping track of your insulin, so you don’t need to write anything down. Learn more here.

Myth: If I wear the pump, everyone will know that I have diabetes
Reality: Using a pump can be as public or private as you want. Since insulin pumps are about the same size as cell phones, wearing a pump can be very discreet. You can put your pump underneath your clothes or wear it on the outside of your clothes, depending on how noticeable you want it to be. The good news, it’s completely up to you where you want to wear it! Learn more here.

Myth: You still have to do shots with a pump, and it’s painful
Reality: What you feel when injecting insulin with a needle is similar to inserting an infusion set.  However, with a pump you have a dramatic reduction in needlesticks – from 3 to 4 injections per day with multiple daily injections to only 1 needlestick when inserting an infusion set every 3 days with a pump. Learn more here.

Myth: Wearing an insulin pump will interfere with daily activities
Reality: Insulin pumps can be easily worn on or under your clothes very securely. There are a variety of cases and clips available to wear with your pump. The pump can also be disconnected from your body for up to an hour for activities like swimming, showering, exercise and other activities you enjoy, so it won’t stop you from living your life. Learn more here.

Continuous Glucose Monitoring

Myth: If I go on CGM, it will replace my fingerstick tests
Reality: CGM therapy today does not completely replace fingerstick testing. Since sensor readings are taken from your interstitial fluid (fluid surrounding the cells in your tissue) and not your blood, you still need to test using a BG meter. This is required to calibrate the sensor throughout the day, to make sure the glucose sensor maintains accuracy over time and always when deciding whether or not to make a treatment decision. Learn more here.

Myth: Readings on my sensor should always match the readings on my meter
Reality: It is important to note that sensor glucose readings are taken from your interstitial fluid (fluid surrounding the cells in your tissue) whereas fingerstick tests are taken directly from your blood. There is a natural lag between glucose levels in the interstitial fluid and glucose levels in the blood. Therefore, it’s normal, and should be expected, for your sensor glucose readings and BG readings to be different but for the most part they should be close. Learn more here.

Myth: I want CGM but I don’t want to use an insulin pump, so it’s not for me
Reality: Although an integrated insulin pump and CGM work very well together and are convenient, if you’re not ready for pump therapy and are on multiple daily injections, you can use a stand-alone CGM device like the Guardian REAL-Time System to help manage your glucose levels. Learn more here.

Myth: Wearing CGM will give me information overload
Reality: With alerts, graphs, and sensor glucose readings occurring evrey 5 minutes, it may seem like your CGM devices give a lot of information at first, but with the right product training and an explanation of how to use the information, you will have the tools to help you take control of your glucose management. Incorporating CareLink Personal Software into your management routine brings together critical information from your insulin pump, CGM, and more than 25 of the most popular blood glucose meters allowing you and your diabetes team to view that information in a meaningful way and make therapy adjustments when needed. Work closely with your diabetes team at the beginning to make sure your needs are met, and over time you will gain the expertise to help fine tune your glucose management. Learn more here.

Note: Medtronic offers CGM products for adults as well as for children ages 7 and above. 

- Medtronic Diabetes insulin infusion pumps, continuous glucose monitoring systems and associated components are limited to sale by or on the order of a physician and should only be used under the direction of a healthcare professional familiar with the risks associated with the use of these systems.
- Successful operation of the insulin infusion pumps and/or continuous glucose monitoring systems requires adequate vision and hearing to recognize alerts and alarms.

Medtronic Diabetes Insulin Infusion Pumps
- Insulin pump therapy is not recommended for individuals who are unable or unwilling to perform a minimum of four blood glucose tests per day.
- Insulin pumps use rapid-acting insulin. If your insulin delivery is interrupted for any reason, you must be prepared to replace the missed insulin immediately.

Medtronic Diabetes Continuous Glucose Monitoring (CGM) Systems
- The information provided by CGM systems is intended to supplement, not replace, blood glucose information obtained using a home glucose meter. A confirmatory fingerstick is required prior to treatment.
- Insertion of a glucose sensor may cause bleeding or irritation at the insertion site. Consult a physician immediately if you experience significant pain or if you suspect that the site is infected.

For more information, please visit


Robert Gagne

Posted on Fri Aug 02 00:09:20 GMT 2013

Above, it says that using a pump reduces the need for injections to 1 every 3 days or so. I have been on Medtroni0c pumps for longer than I can remember. At least for 15 years. In all that time, I have not needed to take an injection once. I do not even have any needles or pens around the house. I had them at one time for backup in case my pump failed, but then I had to maintain a long acting insulin as well as the short acting that is in my pump. Since my pumps never failed, I never used the long acting and had to end up throwing away perfectly good insulin due to expiration. Since Medicare replaces my pump every 5 years, I have two working (older models, same reservoirs) pumps. I don't know why you would suggest a need for an injection at any time while on a pump.


Posted on Fri Aug 02 00:47:10 GMT 2013

The notes with CGM and BS reading should always match
Along with lag time ?? You fail to say there is at least
A 25% to 30% difference in readings,,, I use to use
The CGM, tried it for 3 to 4 months this yr. and for the MOST
part was disappointed in the sensor readings,,, many times had alarns going off
Wiith high alert, and my BS was 180,,, sensor !!!

the other issue
Is if people have scar tissue, like I do ( been pumper for about 12 yrs )

I have devolved alot of scar tissue, around my navel area
Which is ONLY area that CGM can go. Had to restick with new sensor
And had to call support to send me a new one,,

These notes is NOT complete,,,,
I no longer use CGM monitor, until the Next product
Is available, will stay with my finger pricks !

Give potential CGM user the WHOLE truth,
I was lucky as to my ins did cover CGM sensors,,,

Tks for reading,,,

Kathy Smiley

Posted on Fri Aug 02 02:23:55 GMT 2013

As grandmother to a grandson with diabetes, I am trying to understand what is going on and how I can assist and be knowledgeable in his quest to manage his diabetes so as to live a long and vigerous life.


Posted on Fri Aug 02 19:06:03 GMT 2013

Hi Robert, thanks for your feedback and I apologize for the confusion in the way that was written. When talking about the pump we were referring to the needlestick one receives every three days when inserting a new infusion set. I have edited and clarified this above. Thank you.


Posted on Sat Aug 03 00:01:49 GMT 2013

Hi David, thank you for sharing your experiences, I am sorry to hear that you have had some issues. You raise important points that we cover in our training such as where you can insert the sensor, how to best set your alarms and when to test your blood sugar to minimize the differences between the BG and CGM reading. We are always here to help, so if you would like I can connect you to a member of our team who may be able to discuss these points in more detail and any other concerns you may have.

Roy Taylor

Posted on Sat Aug 03 19:44:12 GMT 2013

I need and want the CGM system
I am an insulin dependent diabetic who has used Medtronic Mini Med Insulin Pumps since 1994 and recently upgraded to the 723 Paradigm-Revel insulin pump. Insulin pumps have been a great help to me in managing my diabetes.

I experience sudden low blood glucose readings. My endocrinologist has prescribed the CGM to warn me of these occurrences. However, Medicare does not cover the CGM system, as it is not on their list of approved durable medical equipment.

No one is able to answer why Medtronic’s CGM is not a Medicare approved device. Please advise why Medicare will not cover the CGM system. One reason we were told was that the CGM is not guaranteed for five years and therefore is not considered a durable medical product.
However, the CGM technology has been approved by the FDA for some years and has proven to be extremely effective in warning the patient at least 1/2 an hour before a low or high blood glucose event occurs

There are many seniors on Medicare that have Insulin Dependent Diabetes. Some of us have severe issues with low blood sugars. These include unawareness of lows, passing out, insulin shock, strokes and even death.

The CGM is expensive; however, its annual cost is low when measured against the cost of one ER or hospital stay due to a serious low and or high blood glucose event.

It is no longer reasonable for Medicare or health insurance companies to not provide coverage for diabetes patients who need better glucose control to improve the health and quality of their lives.

What action can you take to get Medicare approve and cover the CGM system

Your prompt attention to my request will be greatly appreciated. .

Looking forward to hearing from you.

Yours truly,

Roy Taylor


Posted on Mon Aug 05 16:07:27 GMT 2013

Hi Roy, thank you for taking the time to leave me this comment. You raise some good points and you’re correct, Medicare does not cover CGM for most patients. Medtronic is actively working with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to ultimately establish coverage consistent with other healthcare insurance companies in the US. Our goal is to ensure consistent access for CGM and insulin pump therapy for all who can benefit. The first step is to work with CMS to assign CGM to a benefit category. We are excited to work this through with industry partners and will keep our community updated. We do offer financial assistance to those who qualify, which you can learn more about here Please let me know if you have any other questions or if you would like to be connected with a team member to learn about your options.

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