Together We Are Smarter

Group Photo

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
Diabetesaliciousness
Diabetes Daily
Diabetic Diva
D-Mom Blog
Me and D
Moments of Wonderful
Ninjabetic
Scott’s Diabetes
Six Until Me
Sugabetic
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.

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