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Reaching Out To The DOC Through Diabetes Advocates

By Amanda Sheldon

Managing Editor

Posted:  4/5/2011 12:00 AM


On Friday, we invited over 20 members (link to flickr stream of event) of the Diabetes Online Community (DOC) to Northridge, CA to visit the home of the Diabetes business unit of Medtronic for what we called the Diabetes Advocate Forum (#MedtronicDAF). We thank everyone for coming and those who participated via Twitter for a very fun and dynamic day.

A little background: this is the first event like this we’ve hosted here in the United States. (Our European colleagues just hosted the second blogger summit in Switzerland last week.) We held this event to provide an opportunity to discuss what is on the minds of the DOC and how we better partner with you and the entire diabetes community. We actively monitor social media and have recently become more involved with the launch of The LOOP. We know you are speaking and want you to know that we are listening! We read what you say online and often take it into meetings as we plan new projects, so we are continuously reminded of how important your voice is.

The day kicked off with Katie Szyman, president of the Diabetes business, discussing the mission of Medtronic and her personal connection to diabetes with the diagnosis of both her nephew and her best friend’s son. Katie was quickly reminded that the DOC is not a shy bunch and, within minutes, she was fielding questions from those in and out of the room on Twitter.

We then asked Lane Desborough to tell the story of his family and how he came to be a product strategist at Medtronic after a career developing closed loop systems for companies such as GE and Honeywell. (You can catch a portion of his story, and the story of his son Hayden on the LOOP here and here. We then asked Greg Meehan, vice president of our CGM business, and Todd Robin, director for CGM product development, to join Lane for one of the most active discussions of the day.

We highlighted what technological and diabetes tradeoff’s we keep in mind while designing closed loop and informatics/connectivity solutions. Of course, what’s most important to us is your safety, which is why innovative products take time. And our guests gave us many suggestions about what they’d like to see from us from both a product development and industry leadership standpoint. Shorter regulatory approval timelines of medical devices and software, a faster pace of change in insulin pumps, more connectivity solutions and better insurance coverage of diabetes management products all made the wish list.

Since the first half of the day was focused on innovation for the body, we invited Dr. Richard Rubin from The Johns Hopkins University to speak to the soul as diabetes is not only a physical challenge. He encouraged the room to choose things that are “Present, Personal and Positive” as motivators and reminded us all that a good dose of laughter is often just what the doctor ordered. 

The day also included:
• Dr. Francine Kaufman, our chief medical officer, spoke about the clinical evidence we are developing behind insulin pumps that are integrated with CGM
• A tour of our sensor manufacturing facility. Yes, we asked everyone to put on bouffant styled caps, coats, goggles and booties to entire the clean room, and everyone was a very good sport!  Oh, and we got to take pictures :)
• A visit to our museum of technological advances of diabetes from the first insulins to the first insulin pumps (like the big blue brick) and first meters
• A news tip about the April 4 launch of CareLink Personal for Mac and a sneak peak of an iPhone application currently in development

To read more about the day from the participants, check out these blogs:

A Sweet Life

Bitter Sweet

Bitter Sweet Part 2

Diabetic Diva


Diabetes Mine

Our Diabetic Life

Our Diabetic Life (on Dr. Rubin)

Your Diabetes May Vary

In addition to thanking everyone who participated, I wanted to give special thanks to Kelly Kunik of Diabeteslicousness. Kelly worked with us over the past several months to develop the agenda, serving as our consultant but most importantly your representative. She gave us honest feedback throughout the process that helped shape a great day.

As we told many of the participants, this forum was just a first step and not the only step we will take to engage with the DOC. At the request of participants, we will start to feature more content on the LOOP that answers questions to innovation and industry. We have already asked Lane to be a regular blogger, so stay tuned for more on that.

What more would YOU like us to do?


Kelly Rawlings

Posted on Wed Apr 06 00:23:32 GMT 2011

Thanks for a wonderful event, Medtronic, and for sharing it with the DOC at large here on The LOOP and by linking to other blogs.

My diabetes management is in my hands day in, day out. But it's comforting to see and to hear that so many smart people at Medtronic and in the diabetes community are hard at work. That wealth of experience, evident connection to diabetes, and a burning passion for improving health and improving lives feel as good to me as cruising "between the lines" at 80-120 mg/dl!


Posted on Wed Apr 06 19:41:42 GMT 2011

First time reader of The Loop I especially love the stories from the Medtronic employees who are also pumpers. I am adding you to my RSS feeds.

Amanda Sheldon

Posted on Wed Apr 06 23:40:48 GMT 2011

Thank you, Kelly and Pearlsa!

Kelly Kunik

Posted on Thu Apr 07 01:56:29 GMT 2011

Thanks for hosting such a stellar event and thank you for the kind words you said on my behalf!
I have to tell you Amanda, I see insulin pumps and CGMs in a whole new light.
Instead of seeing all the "settings" on my pump, I now see the people, the thought processes and the brain power that goes into creating them!

Amanda Sheldon

Posted on Thu Apr 07 20:04:56 GMT 2011

Thank you, Kelly!

Scott Strumello

Posted on Mon Apr 11 19:17:06 GMT 2011

Thanks for hosting this event; I am still refining my review, which will be forthcoming!

Michael Hoskins

Posted on Sun Jul 31 02:01:02 GMT 2011

Somewhat overdue on this comment, which apparently escaped me for almost four months... But thank you, Medtronic, for taking this step and engaging the U.S. contingent of the Diabetes Online Community. It's so inspiring to see your company take the step to enter into the discussion and being willing to listen to those of us in these patient-advocate roles, both online and offline. From what I've read from those attending, it was a great sessions and just the beginning of a great relationship. Thank you for what you are doing!

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