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More Experiences with the Omnipod® 5 Automated Insulin Delivery System from Brandy Barnes

Brandy Barnes

In 2022, we interviewed Brandy Barnes, who founded DiabetesSisters in 2008, about her experiences with the Omnipod® 5 Automated Insulin Delivery System. (Read the English version here, versión en español aquí.) We are excited to have Brandy back to share additional insights from her past year using Omnipod® 5.

It has been over a year since we talked with you about Omnipod® 5. We hear you are in a new role at Insulet. Can you tell us more about it?
Sure! This past April, I moved into the newly created role of Government National Account Manager at Insulet, overseeing all federal accounts across the nation (VA Medical Centers, Department of Defense, and Indian Health Services) and removing barriers to Omnipod access for its constituents. In other words, I make Omnipod more accessible to these specific populations! Veterans Health Affairs covers 9 million lives, the Defense Health Agency covers over 9.6 million lives, and Indian Health Services covers over 2 million lives. I am grateful for the opportunity to have a positive impact on the lives of so many veterans, government employees, and indigenous people and their families. While in field sales, I saw how needed this work is for these deserving populations. Working with government systems can be confusing and overwhelming, so it is important to have someone at Insulet who understands the intricacies of these systems and knows how to navigate them. Currently, we have submitted all necessary paperwork and are awaiting Omnipod DASH® approval for the Federal Supply Schedule. Once we have the approval, I will begin meeting with the stakeholders and leaders of these organizations to gain formulary status on each of their formularies, thus making it easier for doctors to prescribe, easier for patients to pick up at their local pharmacy, and decreasing the cost to patients. Simultaneously, we will also then be submitting the necessary paperwork to get Omnipod® 5 on the Federal Supply Schedule.

Why was Omnipod® 5 created?
As with all of Insulet’s portfolio of products, Omnipod® 5 was created to simplify the lives of people with diabetes. It is a huge leap forward in automated insulin delivery (AID) systems because it is the only tubeless AID system integrated with Dexcom G6, and it requires NO fingersticks* (just my opinion, but life is so much easier with NO fingersticks!). It uses a unique algorithm called SmartAdjust™ technology to continuously adjust insulin using a customizable glucose target. For me, Omnipod® 5 hits the mark and is all that I expected it to be! It has helped me lower my A1C because my blood sugar values are no longer solely dependent on me. It is like having a ‘guardian angel’ keeping an eye on my blood sugar, even when I’m sleeping or focused on other things. For example, if I go to sleep at night with an above-target blood sugar, the SmartAdjust technology will automatically increase automated insulin delivery to gradually lower my blood sugar to the glucose target.

Is there anything you’ve learned since our last conversation that might have been helpful when you were new to the System?
The most important advice I can share is to have patience when moving to a new AID system like Omnipod® 5. Glucose levels may run higher in the first days of use but improve over time as the system adapts with each Pod change. The hardest aspect for me when first starting the system was giving up human control and letting the technology do its thing. Living with Type 1 made me feel somewhat programmed to act or react when I see blood sugars rising quickly or rising above goal. However, in the beginning with Omnipod® 5, the system does not yet have any insulin delivery history on the user so it operates under safer constraints.

The next important learning I can share is to make it a point to remember to bolus for every meal and to consider bolusing before the meal.  The algorithm is based on total daily insulin, which includes both basal and bolus insulin, so it’s important that this value reflects true insulin needs.  Without bolusing for meals, the system may think your insulin needs are lower than what they actually are. That’s why it’s best to bolus for meals and snacks, and to talk to your healthcare provider about bolusing in advance of a meal (15 minutes is ideal for me!) so that the algorithm has all of the information needed to properly manage your blood sugar levels!

How much of your time do you spend in Automated Mode vs. Manual Mode?
I spend the vast majority of time in Automated Mode as I’ve seen so much benefit personally in the use of this technology.  I know that our clinical study participants spent most of their time in Automated Mode, too!

As summer winds down, are there features of the Omnipod® 5 System that made days at the beach or by the pool easier?
I have been active outdoors this summer (despite the extreme heat), so the “Activity” feature remains one of my favorites. I have found it to be indispensable in times when I need less insulin, like exercising.

Do you have issues with the Pod staying adhered to your body during sweaty summer months? Any tips for keeping them in place?
I have never had any issues with Pods sticking to my skin, and I still do not have any issues during hot summer weather. The most common remedy I’ve seen for those who do have issues is to use a “tacky” skin barrier like Torbot Skin Tac™. Many patients I worked with used this both for their Omnipod and Dexcom®, especially in the humid summer months.

You mentioned last time that you were looking forward to the availability of the Omnipod® 5 app for iPhone users – are there any updates you can share on that?
iOS compatibility with Omnipod® 5 has been submitted to the FDA. As an iPhone user myself, I am anxiously awaiting its clearance. This will give iPhone users full functionality from their smartphone, including the ability to bolus, change their Pod, and more. Insulet is really looking forward to bringing this compatibility to users soon!

Any final parting words?
Women empowering women is what DiabetesSisters is all about! It’s hard for me to believe it, but DiabetesSisters has been in existence for 15 years now! Although I have not been as visible at DiabetesSisters since I stepped down as CEO in 2015, I have still been a fly on the wall, smiling as I watched all of the phenomenal things that have gone on and continue to go on at DiabetesSisters under Anna Norton’s leadership as CEO from 2015 to April 2023. Congratulations to all on a job well done!

Moving forward, I couldn’t be more excited to have two equally phenomenal women at the helm of DiabetesSisters – Michele Polz (CEO) and Donna Rice (COO). I have known both of these women for many years now and their work in the diabetes field is renowned! I look forward to watching all of the great things they are about to make happen for all of us – women with diabetes!

One big development on my end is that my daughter, Summer (pictured right), the little girl who danced and sang “This Girl is on Fire!” and served as my trusty sidekick at the DiabetesSisters Weekend for Women Conferences, is now 18 years old and is starting her freshman year of college! Also, all of those sessions on diabetes and menopause that I attended at the Conferences are becoming useful now! Sending Love to all my DiabetesSisters!

And we send our love back to you, Brandy! We are so grateful for what you created here at DiabetesSisters. It was wonderful to hear more insights on the Omnipod® 5 System.

*Fingersticks required for diabetes treatment decisions if symptoms or expectations do not match readings.

The opinions expressed by Brandy are her personal opinions and do not reflect those of Insulet.

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Brandy Barnes
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