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Smart insulin pens

A smart insulin pen is a reusable self-injection pen which records information about how much insulin you inject and when you inject it. This data can be sent to an app on your phone and can help simplify your type 1 diabetes management.
Content last reviewed and updated: 26.02.2024
Smart insulin pen and mobile app

A smart insulin pen and accompanying mobile app

Around 80% of people with type 1 diabetes use a basal-bolus regime also known as multiple daily injections, mostly using insulin injection pens rather than syringes.

Fortunately, breakthrough technology isn’t just for insulin pump users. If you use an insulin pen, a smart pen can help make your life a little easier.

What makes an insulin pen ‘smart’?

  • It keeps a record of the time and dose of each injection.
  • It can connect to a compatible smartphone app, so you can keep track of your data easily and can choose to share it with your clinic.
  • It can enable more accurate dosage calculations through a bolus calculator and so ease the mental burden.
  • It can help you avoid missed doses.

Smart pens can be used straight out of the box, like their predecessors. However, to get the full benefits you need to link them to an app on your smartphone. Novo smart pens, for example, are integrated with glooko Diasend and Glooko clinic software, which are smartphone apps that allow you to upload data from your glucose monitor. This means you can view your dosing data alongside glucose data you have also uploaded to Glooko’s platform. This can help you spot ways to spend more time in target glucose range – such as seeing the effect of injecting after a meal rather than 20 minutes before. Novo is working to integrate their pens into other platforms too.

This is what your Glooko Novopen history will look like:

Glooko software that allows you to upload data from your glucose monitor

 

What are people saying about smart pens?

Tom Dean, founder of DiabetesChat on Twitter says: “My smart pens have been a game changer to how I manage my diabetes with everyday life”. The Glooko app is great. It allows me to link up with my CGM (Dexcom) and see weekly blood glucose level averages and the insulin I have used all in one app – just brilliant.

“What I love about the smart pens and the app is…when you think to yourself – did I take that bolus, did I take my background insulin? Now I can simply check my NovoPens by pressing the memory mode down or looking back on the history log on the Glooko app…and hey presto, hallelujah…I know instantly when I injected and how much. This is a total game changer and the technology has improved my quality of life.”

And clinicians? The Diabetes Technology Network have a couple of videos about smart insulin pens. This video shows how the data from a smart pen can help you (and your clinical team) make more informed decisions about your treatment.

How can I get a smart insulin pen on the NHS?

Simply ask your GP for a prescription. They are the same cost to the NHS as unconnected pens, so there is no reason for them to refuse to prescribe smart pens. If your GP prescribes Novo Nordisk Penfill cartridges, they can prescribe a Novo smart pen and your prescription for your insulin cartridges doesn’t need to change.

This applies in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Which smart insulin pens are available?

NovoPen® 6 and NovoPen Echo® Plus are reusable insulin pens compatible with Novo Nordisk insulin cartridges.

Each pen has a dose memory display that shows the amount of the last dose taken, and the time that has passed since then. NovoPen Echo Plus offers half unit increments.

Novo’s non-connected durable insulin pens, NovoPen® 5 and NovoPen Echo®, are being phased out. However, if you are prescribed Novo smart pens and don’t want to use the connectivity function just talk it through with your clinic.

For more information visit the Novo Nordisk website NovoPen 6 & Novopen Echo Plus

Novo Nordisk's smart insulin pens

The availability of type 1 technology varies by area. Not all clinics will be able to offer all devices. While we provide information on a range of devices, we don’t endorse any one product. Please speak to your diabetes specialist clinic to help you choose the type 1 technology most suitable for you.

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