But just as important, I was nervous because I wanted my community to be happy with the conference; the topics discussed & the end result.
I wanted them to feel like they not only learn some new things, but I also wanted them to feel that they had their questions (at least most of them) answered in the process.
Like the rest of the group, I was nervous because I was excited to learn and have my voice be heard.
And even though I’d attended lots of calls regarding the conference, participating in it was whole different ball game. It was going live and all bets were off!
And lastly, when your attend a diabetes event like Medtronic, Roche, or JDRF Government Day, you want to make sure that your representing those that couldn’t attend. Meaning, it’s just not about representing yourself, it's about representing your community & making sure that others in that community's questions have a chance to be heard.
A caravan of Towne cars and maybe a suburban containing 20 DOC members made their way from Westwood Village to Northridge, Ca, somewhere outside of LA.
Amanda Sheldon, Director of PR gave us a big welcome and the informal tone was set for the day.
The history of Medtronic was talked discussed,(it began in a Minnesota garage), and how Medtronic had listen to what we said about being more involved, which is why they decided to go ahead with this forum.
Carelink being mac compatible in the very near future was also mentioned!
Update: Medtronic announced Carelink's mac compatibility on 4/4/2011!
Amanda introduced the group to Katie Syzman, President of Diabetes Business for Medtronic, who discussed Medtronic and her personal relationship to diabetes.
Next, an iphone/iPad app that Medtronic is currently working on called: My MedtronicConnect was introduced .
The app is in it’s “testing’ phase right now. Basically the app allows you to order your pump supplies on line, and input your pump settings.
Meri, from Our Diabetic Life made a really great observation about the app later in the day!
Meri felt that the app should have several pages for pump settings because some families, (wink, wink) have more than one person who wears a pump.
And to Medtronic busted out with saying: That’s a great idea!
And yeah, it totally was!
There was a lot of honest talking between both sides, and not all of it polite.
We voiced our frustrations and they listen and no one was shy!
But I have too admit admit, I really saw pump & CGM companies (and their challenges) in a whole new light.
To explain that "whole new light," I'm going to paraphrase Lane Desborough, Medtronic Strategist, father of a type 1 son & a really smart guy.
Lane explained the whole Elephant Verses The Hummingbird mentality.
In simple terms, the challenge that Medtronic (and everyone else in the pump/CGM arena for that matter) faces is that the changes in technology are happening at such a crazy pace, that other industries can’t keep up and are incredibly SLOW to change.
FYI: The FDA is the elephant in the Diabetes Room and the swarms of hummingbirds furiously flapping their wings are the insulin pump and CGM companies.
And before you say: Everybody blames the FDA for tying their hands!
Think about this fact that one of our fellow Bloggers brought up in the car after the forum - I think I know who it was, but I need to confirm with him before I print his name.
Drug companies pour millions into creating drugs (and buying & sitting on patents for said drugs) and then they pimp those drugs and sit on those patents (my wording) until they get every last dime (and so very much more) that they put into those drugs.
On the other hand, durable medical equipment (like pumps and CGMs) only have a four-year warranty before the consumer can get a new one.
As a woman who loves her options, I absolutely think four years is an eternity, especially when your talking about being tethered to any product, but durable medical equipment companies only have four years to get the upcoming technology right and bring us back for another four years!
And according to the Product developers we met with, sometime prototypes are scrapped 75% into the design because of the hummingbirds effect!
Being stopped in their tracks by the FDA can’t be good for business – I don’t care what pump company your considering!
Sidebar: Bernard Ferrell, who had been invited to attend the event, but had been snowed in sent me the following tweet:
@diabetesalic If industry keeps us informed, DOC might act as experts +testify to FDA, I've done this in the past.
I relayed Bernard's message to Lane and he whole heartedly agreed!
Then, we had the chance to speak with Greg Meehan, VP of CGM Business, who said something about Medtronic that really stuck on my brain.
He basically said that up until 8 years ago, when Medtronic acquired Minimed, Medtronic had been an purely an implantables company (and my head I kept thinking of the phrase, set it & forget it) and that insulin pump users were entirely different kind of customer to them - and this fact really hit home for me.
Full Disclosure & sidebar: My mom has worn 3 different incarnations of a Medtronic Defibrillator/Pacemaker since 1991, and it's an entirely different animal than our pumps.
Her Defibrillator/Pacemaker does it's job and is an invisible presence.
She gets "scanned" at her cardiologists office every three months to see the history of her heart beats. The only time her internal hardware makes itself known, is when her heart goes all arrythmic.
And then it literally jolted my mom's heart rhythm back to the correct beat. Even when the battery started to wear out, she had something like a three month window to change it.
But she never sees it, except when they remove her old one and replaced it with a new one - and her nosey kids ask the surgeon if they can checkout the old one.
We are totally different clients with totally different needs.
Then Greg said that it took Medtronic some time to figure that fact out
“Up until 8 years ago, I don’t know if we could spell the word "customer” properly."
But times have changed, and Greg made it crystal clear that they had learned from their errors in spelling.
They'd increased their Customer Service hours of operation, added the MyLearning area on the website and asked more questions to their clients about their wants and needs.
I was impressed that Greg acknowledged a previous issue and put it out in the open to let us know that they were aware of it.
And I'm glad that Medtronic took the proper steps and made changes to help their clients!
Next up, Dr. Francine Kauffman spoke with us at lunch and after re: clinical studies with insulin pumps & CGMs.
Dr. Kauffman then introduced Dr. Richard Rubin from John Hopkins, who gave an impressive talk on Diabetes Burnout. And you know what? He knocked it out of the park, folks!
Dr. Rubin grew up quick, because his little sister was diagnosed with type 1 when he was a child. And 20 years to the day, his son was diagnosed with type 1.
Dr. Rubin was as one of the first (I really want to say he's the first) to see that people with diabetes have a lot going on in their minds - and carry a lot in their hearts - I just love him!
He made every single one of us in the room feel validated for experiencing our mental diabetes highs and lows and he made every single one of us laugh, cry, and learn!
I wish that I could have talked more with Dr. Rubin, because I really learned so much about myself during his talk.
Thanks Dr. Rubin!
FYI: Dr. Rubin says laughing is good for our diabetes, so laugh loudly, and often!
SEE THE PIC below for some LOL inspiration!
Next, it was off to a group tour of the where they made the cgm sensors. And for something so incredibly high-tech, there was a lot of tedious and meticulous work done by hand!
So much goes into what we wear on our bodies as people with diabetes, and it just blows my mind and I'll never look at a CGM sensor the same way again!
Finally, our day was done, and it was back to the hotel & then off to a dinner hosted by Medtronic.
As for the day, I’m still processing it ALL and I will continue to do so for quite some time.
Are all our problems with our diabetes outerwear & inner wear solved?
But I do believe that we all walked away with a better understanding of one another.
Personally, I learned a lot, I think we all did, including Medtronic.
And that’s a wonderful thing.
Click HERE if your interested in reading Medtronic’s take on the day, and their list to other Forum participants’ posts.
Full Disclosure: Yes, Medtronic DID pay me to consult on this project before the big day.
My personal goal was to have all parties involved in the forum walk away with a better understanding each other.
While I was at the conference, Medtronic paid for my airfare, hotel & most of my expenses.
Here’s the thing, they didn’t pay me to write a post or put thoughts in my head re: said post.
My thoughts are my own and come from my diabetesalicious brain.