Trying a Smartpen – A Review of the InPen from Companion Medical


 

Editor’s Note: Jay, the author of this piece, is a Beyond Type 1 community member who had the opportunity to try the InPen through a partnership between Beyond Type 1 and Companion Medical. We asked him how he liked it. Here’s what he had to say.


InPen is a Bluetooth® connected smart insulin pen system for MDI users like me who, for whatever reason, choose to not use a pump. InPen combines a health management app with a Bluetooth® enabled pen injector to simplify the constant tracking and calculating required for insulin therapy. InPen tracks active insulin, recommends doses, and reminds users when to take insulin. The InPen works with a Novolog or Humalog cartridge.

Before my first bolus I noticed that the app interface and the pen itself could be dialed for dosing ½ unit increments – cool! 

The home screen on the app is well laid out and intuitive. It features a nice clean look with graphics that are easy to interpret that show 12 hour dosing and BG history at a glance, plus a button that launches a carb counting calculator on the home screen. Secondary screens offer a log book that I could scroll through for my entire bolus history.

The app could automatically detect when I primed the pen prior to dosing so it kept that number of units separate on the logbook. It got it right each time without having to manually change the entry to ‘prime’. I liked that I could, if for any reason, manually enter rapid-acting insulin if I needed to inject from an alternate source.

I travel frequently and have taken 4 flights in the two weeks I used the device. I always have my diabetes kit hand-inspected so it does not pass through the x-ray machine. I haven’t traveled across time zones with InPen yet. It will be a relief to have a reading of my insulin on board when I’ve lost or gained 3+ hours on a flight.

After using the device for two weeks, there are a few things I really like about InPen:

  • You can customize the app with carb ratios, insulin action times, target, and sensitivity factors. Enter blood sugar and carb intake data and the bolus calculator gives a recommended dose. It even takes into account insulin on board and deducts it from the total recommended dose.
  • The Bolus Calculator is a feature that I use daily. My ratio changes from breakfast to meals eaten later in the day so I prefer to use a calculator instead of WAG-ing (wild a** guessing).
  • App software generates sharable reports and data is stored for the full yearlong life of the pen.
  • No need to charge the pen, the onboard battery lasts a year without recharge. (Of course this would mean needing to purchase a new pen at the end of the year, couldn’t make a good thing last forever)

The device syncs with the Apple Health app and that’s where it pulls my CGM data (I use Dexcom). Because Dexcom delays sending data to Apple Health, my BG levels that are displayed on the home screen are 2 to 3 hours behind the actual time. InPen’s app gives me the option of manually entering BG levels for bolusing using the handy calculator on the home screen. I really like having an insulin-to-carb calculator that is easy and quick.

When I started using InPen I still had 50 or so units remaining in my Flexpen. Conveniently, and since every drop counts, I could enter in the Logbook both long-acting and rapid-acting doses that were not taken with InPen.

Did I mention you could set the dosage amount to the .5 unit? I just wanted to repeat that because it’s a major benefit for me when I’m using a 20g of carbs to 1 unit of insulin ratio. If I’m consuming 30g of carbs I want to take 1.5 units, not 1.0 and not 2.0.

The metal cap stays securely on the pen and it is only a bit larger/heavier than the Flexpen I had been using – but it still fits in my kit.

Overall, it’s a great tool to help manage my diabetes and, because of the features of the app, I’m planning to keep using InPen instead of going back to the Flexpen.

 


Interested in trying the InPen? Check your insurance coverage here.

WRITTEN BY Jay Lombard, POSTED 10/12/18, UPDATED 12/13/19

Jay was diagnosed in August 2017 and, soon after, discovered the Beyond Type 1 community. He's a product developer for a specialty food company (and co-leader for the Type One Run chapter) in Maine.