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The Law of Inertia during a Global Pandemic: What's Here to Stay and What's Next in Diabetes Care

By Frida Velcani

At our second virtual Musings Under the Moon gathering, expert panelists discussed emerging needs in diabetes care, including prevention, inequities, partnerships, and innovations

In the last few weeks – and in the midst of a pandemic – the importance of healthcare and public health has become increasingly apparent as systemic racial injustices are called out in the United States. The dual needs to build strong communities and to bring people with diabetes and caregivers into conversation with industry leaders are at an all-time high. On June 5th, The diaTribe Foundation hosted its second event in the virtual series, Musings Under the Moon: Applying Revelations from COVID-19. More than 700 people gathered virtually to listen, ask questions, participate in breakout sessions, and share their thoughts with esteemed panelists and other audience members. You can watch the full panel discussion here.

The theme for this event was “The Law of Inertia during a Global Pandemic: What's Here to Stay and What's Next in Diabetes Care.” Our three highly-regarded, expert panelists shared their insights on what they believe is working and what is not working across healthcare design and delivery, and specifically, how we can begin to rebuild our broken healthcare system. In the wake of the protests against racial injustice, the speakers also reflected on the glaring health disparities that predominantly exist in Black communities.

The Law of Inertia during a Global Pandemic: What's Here to Stay and What's Next in Diabetes Care was co-moderated by diaTribe Founder, Kelly Close, and diaTribe Senior Associate, Divya Gopisetty, and featured three incredible panelists:

  • Chris Boulton, Global Head of Integrated Care at Sanofi

  • Kiersten Combs, Vice President of US Cardiovascular & Metabolic Disease at AstraZeneca

  • Sean Salmon, Executive Vice President and President of Diabetes Group at Medtronic

Read on for some of our favorite quotable quotes from the virtual event!

On prevention and addressing health inequities

“I continue to have a heavy heart as we all mourn the tragic death of George Floyd and many others. In that vein, I’ve been thinking a lot about the two big pandemics that are in the spotlight: one is COVID-19 and one is racism, and both affect black communities disproportionately.” - Divya Gopisetty (diaTribe)

“The disparities that we see are exacerbated with COVID-19. Some region-specific data from Chicago showed 90% of those hospitalized with COVID-19 have chronic health conditions and 70% of them were either people of color, people with diabetes, or both.” - Kelly Close (diaTribe)

“When you talk about what it means to be able to screen underrepresented populations or lower socioeconomic populations – there is a huge need across our country to be able to do that. While we often talk about it, we have a really hard time mobilizing this…It is something that needs to be done at the local level.” - Kiersten Combs (AstraZeneca)

“[For those that take insulin,] … we need to go from insulin treatment to predicting how to use insulin. How can we take big sets of data and predict what’s happening to patients in the future? Will you go high? Is there a risk for stacking? How patients can get better at predicting insulin dose or carbs will require power from the CGM device to turn it into actionable information for a smoother existence … There’s a lot that we’ll be working on to delve into that predictive and preventive world.” - Sean Salmon (Medtronic)

“I would reiterate that diabetes complications do not have to be destiny and that diabetes does not have to be progressive, and that power lies within patient hands. I would encourage healthcare professionals to remember that lens and work in partnership with patients to remember that health exists outside of that 15-minute appointment. Your patient goals should be your goals.” - Divya Gopisetty (diaTribe)

“Some of the new medicines that are on the market, specifically for type 2 diabetes patients, not only deliver glycemic control, but there’s also quite a shift into cardiovascular and renal protection. This is a huge advancement in being able to look at the micro and macrovascular issues patients suffer from. […] With COVID-19, we see patients not go to their doctors, let alone the hospital. People are not doing the regular check-ups and maintenance on their current underlying disease like diabetes, much less thinking about prevention.” - Kiersten Combs (AstraZeneca)

“Insulin affordability is not a new topic as we know, but it is something that Sanofi has proactively taken steps to address… In these challenging times, we have to come together. Solutions only work if everyone takes their fair share. We’ve all been brought together to step in and do something to keep out-of-pocket levels low for people on Medicare Part D.” - Chris Boulton (Sanofi)

“To see [throughout COVID-19] the resilience, caring attitudes, and perseverance through personal and wider challenges is great. These challenges show how much inequity in the world plays out in education, housing, and healthcare opportunities … I want to make the place where we work safe, inclusive, and empowering. Outside the walls of what we do in business, it’s about making a positive impact in the world.” - Sean Salmon (Medtronic)

On partnerships

Connective insulin pens can bring together CGM data and insulin dose recording data and let you look at both the insulin you’ve taken and its effect on your glucose. This is great for people with diabetes, for healthcare providers, and it’s great for payers to look at the data in totality to see what works and what outcomes can be improved.” - Chris Boulton (Sanofi)

“We spend a lot of time thinking about how we support primary care providers and diabetes educators who provide patients with the right education and resources. I think it’s also a broader matter…partnerships between industry, academia, and advocacy is the only way to elevate the conversation. We can’t do it alone.” - Kiersten Combs (AstraZeneca)

From the more social and political groups to the more technology-based, for all of us, it is within our control to do this. Disruption leads to innovation, and it’s time to try and make it happen.” - Chris Boulton (Sanofi)

“I love how we are hearing, loud and clear, that industry wants to invest in the rest of the ecosystem working together.” - Kelly Close (diaTribe)

On innovation in healthcare

“We’ve found satisfaction rates with telemedicine to be much higher than in-person visits, as people are getting to their glycemic control much faster. We can use technology as the enabler of better care.” - Sean Salmon (Medtronic)

“To have an integrated system, it has to be more patient-centered. Our entire population is getting older, like my mother, and while it’s convenient for me to do telehealth, it’s very intimidating to her. Telehealth needs to become much more user friendly for individuals who did not grow up with this technology.” - Kiersten Combs (AstraZeneca)

“It is frustrating when as a patient or a caregiver you have to justify why time in range is important… We need to take a more holistic picture of the quality of glucose control. With time in range and CGM, there is so much more we can do to understand the condition.” - Chris Boulton (Sanofi)

“Getting better at predicting what’s going to happen in the future will take the power of what is feeding through the CGM device to turn it into actionable information that can help you live a smoother existence. That’s exciting. There’s a lot that we’ll be working on to deliver on that predictive and preventive world.”  - Sean Salmon (Medtronic)

“I think predictive technology is going to be our friend. As a parent, I hope these exciting things will be accessible to me and my family. There is a bright and optimistic future for software and devices that can help [people] every day. One of the bigger [dreams] would be to have access to an artificial pancreas.” - Chris Boulton (Sanofi)

 “It has been said that 10,000 hours of practice is what makes one an expert in something – if that’s the case, then people with diabetes, the experts, need to be a part of these conversations about innovation.” - Kelly Close (diaTribe)

Thank you to our sponsors for an outstanding event!​

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