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Together We Are Smarter

By Amanda Sheldon

Managing Editor

Posted:  4/6/2012 8:35 PM


Last week was the personal highpoint of my year. One of the best things I get to do every day is answer questions and provide information to people with diabetes to make the management of their diabetes a little easier. At the same time, I work with many of the leaders of the company to get updates on product innovations like the closed loop, clinical studies to improve outcomes, and a variety of other topics including education and support. Both worlds were brought together when we held our second annual Diabetes Advocate Forum here at the headquarters of our diabetes business unit in Northridge, CA.

It was great to meet with many familiar faces and make new connections with people I have only met online.  Of course, we could only host a few people, knowing that they represent many more advocates who are online providing support to others with diabetes. It was a whirlwind two days with deep dive discussions about technology and innovation, social media, global advocacy, making life better, and everything in between.

Fortunately, we were able to capture a few fun photos and our guests kept up an active Twitter stream of the events of the day using the #MedtronicDAF hashtag.

As could be expected, we spoke a lot about innovation and areas of focus for continuous glucose monitoring, closed loop and insulin delivery, as well as connected care. We discussed making it easier to upload and understand data, “I know” responses to alarms, and allocating the 1,000 diabetes tasks a person with diabetes does each and every day. Or as Lane Desborough would say in geek-speak, “the biggest opportunity is to go after frequent activities and events for which we are unable or unwilling to interrupt important primary tasks (sleeping, driving a car, wearing a dress) to perform the hundreds of tertiary tasks associated with managing diabetes.”

It’s hard to pick a favorite part of the day, but it was very important for us to spend the afternoon speaking about advocacy -- from the work all of you do online as diabetes advocates to global advocacy and ways to volunteer. I know I was personally moved by the photos Dr. Francine Kaufman shared of her recent trip to Haiti. As @simplycooking tweeted, “I am so grateful for the #Diabetes care I get here in the USA. These pictures are making me cry.”

We also invited Chuck Eichten, author of the Book of Better, to speak about how he fuels his work to make life a little bit better. Many in the room felt that the quote he chose from Martin Luther King would be an equally good description of the Diabetes Online Community – “Almost always the creative, dedicated minority has made the world better.” We’ve asked Chuck to guest blog at The LOOP, so stay tuned for his perspective on how creativity + failure = better.

Since I couldn’t choose a favorite moment of the day, I asked some of our executives for perspective and the responses were as varied as our content:

“The empathy that was felt for those with diabetes around the world was impressive…so let’s help keep the spotlight on.” Dr Francine Kaufman

“Coming soon……..Wedding!!!! The bride will show, the groom will show, will Tom chicken out??? This will be a wedding to remember with Tom leading the ceremony. Best of Luck Jeff!” Greg Meehan, referring to the upcoming wedding of Jeff Hitchcock’s daughter which will be officiated by Tom Karlya.

“You guys give me goosebumps! Your passion and excitement and commitment are inspirational. I’m so glad you were able to share insights from our world of diabetes. It’s an honor to have been able to spend time with you.” Lane Desborough

And then of course there are all of the perspectives of our participants. Check out these blogs or scan through the #MedtronicDAF conversation on Twitter.

A Sweet Life    
Bitter Sweet
Diabetic's Corner Booth
Diabetes Daily    
Diabetic Diva    
D-Mom Blog
Me and D
Moments of Wonderful    
Scott's Diabetes
Six Until Me
Texting My Pancreas    
Your Diabetes May Vary 

At some point during a discussion of social community and industry, someone remarked, “Together we are smarter.” It’s an amazing way to sum up what we can all achieve when working together. It is definitely why Medtronic hosts this forum each year – to hear from the online community about what is working, what is not, and to determine together areas to focus on. We’d like to hear from you, so please share in the comments.



Joelean Lambrecht

Posted on Wed Apr 11 18:24:25 GMT 2012

Good morning, Amanda,

My 4 year old daughter, Gracie was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes on 9/20/2011. She has endured injections with each meal and finger sticks every 2-4 hours with the strength and courage of someone well beyond her mere 4 years. She is such an amazing little girl. A few days after her diagnosis, I had a moment where I became overwhelmed, began to cry, and scooped her into my arms and said,"I am so sorry I have to poke you with needles so much". Her response to me was heart-warming. She said, "It's ok Mommy, insulin makes me feel better".
On Monday, 4/9/2012, just 2 days ago, Gracie began using her new pink Medtronic insulin pump. I can't even put into words what a blessing this pump has been. Again, in true Gracie form, she came up to me yesterday with the following comment. "Mommy, this is the best day of my life, this is how I used to feel BEFORE I got diabetes." Again, I sccoped her up in my arms and began to cry. This time however, they were happy tears. I agree with Gracie, our life feels normal again (a new normal). I never thought I could feel such love for a piece of medical equipment! The real love is for the people behind the pump. Thank you all soooooo much for all that you do everyday to help families like ours. Your tireless commitment paves the way for a better life for so many.
With warmest regards,
Joelean Lambrecht (and the rest of our family too!)


Posted on Fri Apr 13 01:34:47 GMT 2012

@Joelean Thank you so much for your comment - words like this remind my coworkers and me why we come to work every day! Of course we know that, even with an insulin pump, living with diabetes is hard and never quite “normal” but it’s great to hear our products have helped your family. Big hugs to you and Gracie!

Mike Hoskins

Posted on Fri May 04 12:12:33 GMT 2012

Thanks again for the great event, and bringing members of the Diabetes Online Community there to see how we can best work together. It's so reassuring to see the people behind the product, and how you really care and aren't just pushing products... honored to have the opportunity to be a part of that bigger picture, and I hope more companies turn to this type of relationship-building to get the consumer/patient/personal connection.


Posted on Fri May 04 15:46:43 GMT 2012

Thanks Mike - It was great seeing you!


Posted on Fri Oct 26 22:44:32 GMT 2012

first-time reader here! I was wondering if there was any discussion during this event about 1) New products, esp. CGMS
2) Medicare and other insurance coverage struggles for CGMS
I have been using CGMS since it first came out and was covered through my husband's work insurance for the supplies. He retired and now I have Medicare as my primary insurance. They will not cover the supplies and it is way too expensive for me to pay out of pocket! This is a HUGE problem for me!
Any input is appreciated!

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