When it comes to designing a truly holistic solution for people with diabetes, Insulet stands out. The company’s revolutionary tubeless Omnipod insulin pump has rapidly won market share in the US and increasingly in other markets as well. The device makes insulin delivery easy, engaging, and even stylish.
As Eric Benjamin, Executive Vice President of Innovation & Strategy, explains, the daily regimen for people with diabetes has been incredibly burdensome. People with insulin-requiring diabetes must monitor their glucose levels and decide how much insulin to dose. They must also keep track of supplies, balance costs, maintain access to endocrinologists, and more. In fact, it is estimated that people with diabetes make on average 300 decisions a day around their care – the equivalent of holding a second job or being a full-time caregiver.
Having recognized this level of burden on a daily basis, he says, “It’s been clear from the very beginning that the problem to solve for in diabetes is an end-to-end problem.” Whatever solution Insulet came up with, it needed to alleviate the pain that people with diabetes experienced along their entire journey. This is what they set out to achieve, now with their fifth-generation product – the Omnipod 5.
As an automated insulin delivery (AID) device, the technology itself strives to fit into a person’s daily routine seamlessly. It is the first fully wearable AID system on the market, meaning that it connects with a wearable Continuous Glucose Monitor (CGM), thus creating a constant feedback loop with automated adjustments to the user’s insulin delivery. This means that users no longer need to wrestle with tubing, do so many manual calculations, or carefully work with their endocrinologists to adjust their therapy settings and get their dosage right. Today it is compatible with the Dexcom G6 CGM, with the aim to expand its compatibility with other sensors and their families in the long run – once again in an effort to fit into users’ routines. To interface with the device, Insulet has created a simple smartphone app. There is also a separate controller if customers don’t have a compatible phone.
Its tech and design are not the only ecosystem-centric features of the Omnipod 5. Insulet has taken the same approach to the way it sells its product too. Instead of going down the traditional route of relying solely on doctor’s offices, the company wanted to make its device more accessible to people with diabetes by selling it via the pharmacy. Customers can get started with the Omnipod at a pharmacy with no upfront commitment (vs. the 4 years that some payers require through the Durable Medical Equipment benefit) and at little cost. Of course, this strategy also involves yet another type of innovation, requiring more education for users and pharmacists.
This strategy has clearly yielded widespread success. After a full-scale roll-out in August 2022 to all eligible users in the US, Insulet saw a 42.4% year-over-year growth in its stateside Omnipod revenues for the third quarter of the year. And it is winning market share: whereas traditionally 20% of Insulet’s new users are competitive conversions, by February 2023 a full 35% of its new Omnipod customers were previously using a rival device.
Its success is not just in the numbers. Today, Insulet boasts an active community of “Podders” – consumers who are proud to wear their Omnipod and grateful for the ways in which it improves their lives. Insulet continues to gain insights from its product’s cloud connectivity and data analytics, which includes years of real-world evidence, allowing it to learn from its customers’ health outcomes and product performance to improve the offering over time.
By adopting an ecosystem-centric approach to its design and distribution of their latest product, Insulet has re-thought device integrations, interfaces, design, sales channel, and both user and influencer engagement. That’s 360-degree innovation.