The Benefits of Using a Smart Insulin Pen

This content originally appeared on Beyond Type 1. Republished with permission.

By Todd Boudreaux

Smart insulin pens are an essential tool for those taking multiple daily injections to manage type 1 or type 2 diabetes. While maintaining the simplicity of injections, smart pen technology helps you keep track of when you took your insulin and how many units you injected. When juggling more than one type of insulin, the log in a smart pen can help prevent confusion if you’re ever unsure of which insulin you just injected.

Learn more about the benefits of smart insulin pens in this interview with Anne Peters, MD.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Beyond Type 1: How do you feel about smart insulin pens? Are there certain patients you would recommend them to over others?

Dr. Anne Peters: I love smart pens because I think they really help my patients. Anybody on multiple daily insulin injections (MDI) should be using a smart pen. I really encourage them because even if you don’t use a dose calculator, what you can see is insulin-on-board and it helps people prevent stacking their insulin doses. In my experience, it seems to help patients keep better track of how much insulin they’ve taken and when they took it. It prevents that random dosing, like “Oh, I should give insulin before I eat. Oops, I forgot. Okay, I’ll dose. When did I last give that dose?” The insulin-on-board notion and seeing when you gave your last dose really helps the timing of insulin.

Almost all of my patients experience less hypoglycemia when they’re using a smart insulin pen because it helps prevent stacking. It might not improve their A1c only because fewer lows mean more stable blood sugars. I also love the data because then I can see what you’re doing. I can’t help you improve how you dose insulin for meals if I don’t know what you’re already doing.

I’m a huge fan of smart pens and I wish everybody on MDI could use one.

Do you see more of your type 2 versus type 1 patients using them? Is it the same?

Well, I have so few patients with type 2 diabetes on multiple daily insulin injections, because I’d put them first on a GLP-1 agonist with long-acting basal insulin. Some of my type 2 patients use Omnipod because they don’t like having to carry around insulin pens everywhere they go.

I think my patients with type 1 diabetes tend to be pretty darn detail-oriented, and they appreciate what smart pens offer.

My type 2 patients just don’t deal with the same degree of intensity in MDI. The dosing regimens aren’t as intense compared to my type 1 patients.

The insulin-on-board is key. I really appreciated knowing exactly what type of insulin I just took. I’ve had moments after taking an injection and not knowing whether I took my long-acting or my rapid-acting. The smart pen automatically logs all of my doses. 

Yes, it really takes away the need to log. And if you use the bolus calculator, you can put in the carbs—but as everybody knows, there’s a difference in carbs. Not all carbs are the same. And certainly, the dieticians like to know what kind of carbs were ingested, simple carbs versus healthier carbs.

Be sure to remember, to ask your physician to prescribe the cartridges because your doctor might prescribe a smart pen that fits Novolog cartridges versus Humalog cartridges. Make sure they understand which types of insulin you’re using so it works properly with the pen. Make sure you get what you need!

Thank you, Dr. Peters!

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