Comprehensive user review of the CellNovo Patch Pump
The cellnovo patch pump – brilliant in theory. Awful in execution.
I wanted so much to love this. I wanted it to work and to be the answer to my issues with my Medtronic Veo (tubing related) and my concerns over Omnipod (binning every 3 days/killing the planet). I’m so disappointed I’ll admit I’ve had a full-on, grown-up temper tantrum.
In theory, the Cellnovo is a tiny patch pump with a 2cm stretch of tubing to the cannula which allows it, along with velcro stickers on the skin and pump, to be worn at all times – swimming and showering included – but also removed if you want to. It’s operated by a Bluetooth handset which uses Android software to give insulin like other pumps but also track activity and keep a library of food items for easy carb counting and bolusing.
While the activity tracker and food library were great bonuses, what made me really want to try this was that the pumps are rechargeable!! Unlike an Omnipod where the whole device and battery is thrown away every three days*, only the insulin cartridge and cannula are binned. The pump itself is put on charge and you use the second one that you will have already have charged and waiting so no downtime. They should take about 4 hours to charge.
In actuality, it’s a cacophony of errors that just makes it unreliable. When you’re replacing an internal organ with a medical device and your own time and effort, things need to work. When you’ve got a busy life and a 5 year old, 2 year old and 6 month old also relying on you to look after them, reliability is key. So for me it’s time to give up trying with this.
On Monday I had an appointment with my pump specialist and the Cellnovo rep. The rep was lovely and very helpful. The handset wasn’t working right at the appointment. The back button on the touchscreen wasn’t working consistently but once it had charged more it started to work better. She said a new one would be sent out just in case it was going to be an issue every time the battery ran down and as all the details on the handset were automatically uploaded to the cloud (there’s a sim in it) the new handset would be ready to use with my basal rates etc already in it. For whatever reason, customer care decided to cancel this new handset as it had worked when fully charged… I didn’t find that out until Tuesday afternoon and after other issues though.
There were further issues with the handset that came about on Tuesday with the activity tracker reading off the chart by lunchtime (I’m active and had done a 5k buggy walk but I’m not superwoman). By lunchtime I already had warnings for the battery being low in the handset. In theory it should have lasted a full 16 hours and be able to be charged overnight. This meant I had to put it on charge in the middle of a busy day. Given it is the only way to bolus, that’s not ideal. It really should have been replaced. But there were more issues than just the handset.
The insulin cartridges have their own issues. These are single-use components that come in a sterile package. The first one was ejected by the pump in the middle of the night and alarmed with the handset having detected an issue. I scanned my sugar levels and I was hypo so instead of waking up the 2 small children who had ended up in bed with me, I decided to leave it until morning to sort. Lesser of the evils as it were. The new cartridge wouldn’t deliver a bolus that morning. I had one lot of warning alarms that the bolus had been cancelled but for the other times it took me waking up the handset and checking to see that it hadn’t done it. Tried three times. No joy. Replaced it again as advised in the instruction book. By then I’d taken a pen injection as breakfast was a while before and my levels were into the teens. I also had the school run to get on with. Over lunch it transpired there was another issue as the bolus took so long to go through that the 5 minute screen light timed out twice just giving me 4 units. I had been told it was quite slow in giving a bolus but felt that was a bit extreme. It was later confirmed by customer care as an error/issue, most likely with the handset but possibly with the pump itself.
I got home on Tuesday after lunch, not even 24 hours into having the Cellnovo patch pump and was ready to give up. I had put the handset on charge and was about to change a nappy then phone customer care when they phoned me! This was to let me know they had cancelled the delivery of my new handset… I let them know what was going on and they arranged for a new, new handset to be with me on Wednesday so I could get going with the other pump and a replacement pump to be delivered on Thursday. Either they or fedex decided to make these one parcel instead and that didn’t arrive until 5.30pm Thursday evening. Glad I wasn’t in a hurry! I put the new handset and my second pump on charge ready to start fresh this morning.
Today with the new handset and pump…
*I was sent the wrong activation code for the handset as they had the old one down as the new one
*the pump wouldn’t pair with the handset. It needed so much force on top of it in the dock to register then start pairing that I’ve bruised my thumb
*new pump wouldn’t charge. It needed a heavy book on top before the charging light came on. Seems I have a faulty docking station too
*my basal rates and bolus ratios were not on the pump as I was told they would be. The rep was lovely and emailed it all over in an easy to read format instead of me going through my Medtronic
*bolus time was still ridiculously slow and after Tuesday’s issues, I didn’t feel like I could leave it to do it, I was watching the screen the whole time to make sure it did it
*it was a warm day and I was in a warm room and with a little movement and perspiration, everything came unstuck! Velcro pad and cannula
All that by 12.30pm.
That was my last straw. I’m out.
The rep has been in touch since I’ve let her know to apologise and she’s sending out a new charging station but I honestly don’t think I can face trying again. I’m welcome to keep hold of it all for a while and try again if I want to. I don’t think I have enough faith in the system now to be honest.
If you’re offered a Cellnovo, ask for a trial first. Hopefully your experience will be better.
There’s so much that could be amazing. It just needs more work I think
*Recycling service available for the OmniPod patch pump