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Medtronic’s 2nd Annual Diabetes Advocate Forum Gathers Bloggers and Advocates for Day of Valuable Presentations and Engaging Discussion

Published: 4/30/12

We recently had the privilege of attending Medtronic’s 2nd Annual Diabetes Advocate Forum, held at the company’s headquarters in Northridge, CA, on March 30. The event gathered 28 diabetes bloggers and advocates from around the country, including diaTribe advisory board member Jeff Hitchcock (Children with Diabetes), TuDiabetes’ Manny Hernandez, David and Elizabeth Edelman of diabetes daily, Diabetes Mine’s Amy Tenderich, Scott Johnson from Scott’s Diabetes, #DSMA twitter chat founder Cherise Shockley, George Simmons (Ninjabetic), D-Mom Blog's Leighann Calentine, and many others. Some major highlights from the day included:

  • An inside look at how Medtronic is developing the artificial pancreas (AP). Lane Desborough, a Medtronic engineer and father of a son with type 1, began with a unique presentation on control algorithm theory as it applies to the artificial pancreas. We then embarked on a tour of the office and got to meet many of the engineers (former rocket scientists!) involved in the development of Medtronic’s AP system. It was particularly fascinating to see “Lane’s Wall,” an impressive collage of posters with overarching design principles, patient data, goals, and timelines. As we understand it, much of this distinctive development approach is borrowed from software and product development at companies like Toyota, General Electric, and Honeywell. Overall, the opportunity to become better acquainted with Medtronic’s team and approach left us inspired and more optimistic about the development of the artificial pancreas. (To read more about recent artificial pancreas developments, see the learning curve in diaTribe #39, the conference pearls in diaTribe #40, and the last chapter of our e-book Targeting a Cure for 1 Diabetes).

  • Dr. Francine Kaufman’s inspiring (and heart-wrenching) trips to Haiti. Dr. Kaufman, the Vice President of Global Medical Affairs at Medtronic Diabetes and a renowned pediatric endocrinologist, provided eye-opening stories about treating people with diabetes in Haiti – a country where type 1 diabetes carries an alarming 85% mortality rate at onset. Her candid accounts of seeing patients, educating medical students, and running the country’s first diabetes camp left us moved and incredibly grateful for all that we have access to here in the United States. (For those interested in reading more about Dr. Kaufman’s trips, visit her blog at http://www.reportingonhealth.org/user/1543/blogs.) She concluded her presentation by calling the audience of bloggers and advocates to action. "There is a ton of stuff to advocate for…we might not make it an equal playing field, but let's at least make it a playing field.”

  • Our first in-person look at the recently FDA-approved mySentry, a remote monitoring system that enables parents and caregivers to see real-time insulin pump and CGM information from another room (see our detailed coverage of the device in new now next in diaTribe #39). We were most impressed with the monitor’s very loud alarms and sharp, highly readable color screen. Encouragingly, a couple small insurers are beginning to reimburse the $3,000 device (Ohio State Health Plan and AvMed Health Plan in Florida). We hope to see this trend continue, as we believe that a significant number of parents would use the device if they could afford it.

  • A talk from Chuck Eichten, author of The Book of Better: Life with Diabetes Can't Be Perfect. Make It Better. Mr. Eichten, a design director at Nike who has had type 1 diabetes for over 30 years, focused on how the combination of creativity and failure ultimately makes us better off. We were thrilled to receive copies of his book, which features an engaging design, humorous drawings, and puts a positive and lighthearted spin on having diabetes. –AB/KC

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