If you were on Twitter or Facebook over the weekend, you may have seen quite a few status updates about the Medtronic Diabetes Advocate Forum.
For the second year in a row, Medtronic brought some of the more prominent members of the diabetes online community (DOC) out to their headquarters in Northridge, California.
(Disclosure, Medtronic paid for my travel, hotel, and meals during the event. I chose to extend my stay at my own expense to sight see and hang out with some of my friends. They did not ask me to write about the event and opinions are my own.)
The Medtronic Event
Thursday night we had a casual dinner where we all got reacquainted. It is always great to solidify online relationships in person. I was glad that in addition to last year’s attendees, there were some new people added to the group.
At dinner I was seated next to Greg Meehan who is the head of the CGM division at Medtronic. I use events such as these to provide feedback and make suggestions and this dinner was no exception. Since we are in the middle of our CGM and mySentry trial*, I treated dinner as an opportunity to tell Greg what I liked and disliked about the products.
I had a long conversation with Greg about the fact that Q is terrified of the CGM insertion, but that once it’s done, she says that it didn’t hurt so bad, if at all. For her it’s the anticipation of the insertion and seeing that monstrous needle! One of the factors that led us to choose the OmniPod for her insulin pump was that the insertion is easy and she never has to see a needle. The needle for the CGM sensor is large. Greg and I talked about “perception” versus “pain” and how even if you know something won’t hurt (or hurt much), the anticipation can still be scary.
Greg told me about the Enlite sensor which is currently available in Europe and may be available in the US relatively soon. (Take that to mean what you want. But I get the feeling that it will be more than a few months, but before the end of 2013.) The sensor itself is smaller than the Sof-sensor we are using now, can be worn up to 6 days (as opposed to 3 days), the insertion needle is hidden and retractable, and it’s more accurate.
Friday was packed with content. I think what I am most excited about is the work that Medtronic is doing to develop an artificial pancreas (AP) system. The team, led by D-Dad and engineer Lane Desborough, includes top notch researchers including, I kid you not, a rocket scientist. I really feel in my heart that the artificial pancreas will revolutionize diabetes management for people with type 1 diabetes. Of course there is a lot that has to happen between now and when a fully functional AP is FDA approved and on the market for consumer use. But I’m optimistic that it will be available within 5-10 years. Will Medtronic have the first AP system on the market? Who knows. But given that their current product line includes both insulin pumps and continuous glucose monitors, they might be first to the punch.
And I am also glad to see that a patch pump is in development. I am pro patch pump for many reasons. While I really like our OmniPod, I welcome competition in the market. Competition will hopefully drive innovation and better products. Plus Medtronic devices are Mac-compatible, the OmniPod is not and it’s one of the few negatives I have about using Insulet’s product. Plus, if we adopt CGM technology (we aren’t 100% sure we want the CGM yet), an integrated system would be great. Though there is always talk of OmniPod and DexCom integration, I’m not sure how quickly it will be on the market. I would definitely consider a patch pump/CGM combo by whichever company offers it first.
I think the most exciting announcement that kids will appreciate is Medtronic’s partnership with Build-a-Bear. There is now a Lenny the Lion made by Build-a-Bear that is being given to children who begin a pump or CGM. Lenny can wear clothing from the BAB store and can even be dressed as a girl. Though they won’t be sold in stores, Medtronic customers can order Lenny from their online store for purchase. Lenny has several areas that show where a child can place his or her insertion set or sensor. I know that Rufus helped us through a rough patch right after diagnosis and I can see that this Lenny could help children as they begin pumping.
We ended the event with a dinner at the home of Dr. Francine Kaufman. Do you know what her dog is named? Islet.
What else did you think she would name him?
For a play-by-play of the event, read David Edelman’s post on Diabetes Daily.
Disclosure, Medtronic paid for my travel, hotel, and meals during the event. I chose to extend my stay at my own expense to sight see and hang out with some of my friends. They did not ask me to write about the event and opinions are my own.