Let me start by saying that unlike Apple's wall-mounted docking station for the iPod, this product is not for everyone. The other iPort stands for injection port, a little extended-wear doohickey that attaches to your skin for easy injecting, without the need for repeated skin punctures. If you're already a happy insulin pumper, take a pass. If, however, you're newly diagnosed, just getting used to injections, or want a "vacation" from your pump, this may be the gizmo for you.
Launched about 4 months ago, Patton Medical's iPort is essentially like a stand-alone pump infusion set, inserted via cannula. It can accommodate up to 75 injections in the 72-hour wear time. It's waterproof for bathing, swimming, and exercising.
The iPort is FDA approved for use with all kinds of insulin, Byetta, Symlin, growth hormones, fertility drugs and other injectables. It's already covered by over 100 health plans, including 20-25 Blue Cross groups, several state Medicads, and the military TriCare plan.
Why the quick mass adoption, you ask? The company says it's a no-brainer: if this simple tool can help lots of patients be more "compliant," it's a win-win-win situation for physicians, medical plans, and patients alike.
"If you're complaint and pro-active, it's not an issue, but 2/3 of people on insulin are not in good control... They might be taking 3 shots of rapid-acting insulin and Lantus every day, but it's that corrective post-prandial dose they're not doing, because they don't want to stick themselves anymore," says Patton COO Rick Wittenbraker.
The iPort is handy for any kind of injections, but it's worth noting that company was actually founded by a woman in her late '20s diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes while pregnant with her first child. "KK" Patton was a horse trainer and pro rider in Texas, who happened to be married to a patent attorney. Long story short, she hated both injections and wearing a pump, and believed there had to be a better way. She developed a prototype with the help of some colleagues, and founded a company to sell the idea.
Chalk one up for diabetic ingenuity.
With coverage, iPort supplies cost an average of $25 month. So there's additional overhead, but also an added benefit, Wittenbraker says. "We have so many parents who are excited to have this for their diabetic children. And we have a ton of pump users now using iPort for their Symlin. They don't want to go back on shots."