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Summer 2020 DiabetesMine D-Data ExChange Provides Excellent Virtual Learning

By Monica Oxenreiter

At the first virtual #DData we learned about exciting work in the DIY community and strategies to get Control-IQ to more people, and we collaborated on ideas to effectively integrate technology in diabetes self-management tools

The June 2020 DiabetesMine D-Data ExChange (#DData) offered a valuable look at the latest technology options available for people with diabetes, specifically showcasing new automated insulin delivery systems (AID) that are coming for people with diabetes who take insulin.

The bi-annual #DData forums bring together thought leaders from healthcare, diabetes technology and therapy, and people with diabetes to explore challenges and emerging solutions in data-driven diabetes care. The June 2020 event was held virtually, on an interactive platform that allowed for video networking. You can watch videos from the event here

We found three top highlights from the event. The first was a review by Wes Nordgren (of the type 1 diabetes-focused Nightscout Foundation) on various projects in the “DIY pipeline” across the world – all aimed at helping to expand use of closed-loop systems to more people through open-source artificial pancreas technology. The second was a discussion with Danielle Karsten (from Tandem Diabetes Care; she spearheaded the Control-IQ system launch) who provided a backstage look at how Tandem has handled heavy interest in the new Control-IQ technology. Finally, expert educator Aimee Jose (of Steady Health) led a brainstorming session about creating engaging, interactive training materials that resonate with people who have diabetes. We’ve broken down these three sessions below.

Wes Nordgren discussed the latest project among the DIY community. People in the #WeAreNotWaiting group want to have more control over the sophisticated tools they use to manage their blood sugars, and looping gives them that opportunity.

  • Advocates claim that optimal use of OpenAPS or Looping systems paired with a low carb diet can reduce the burden of diabetes to the point that someone with type 1 diabetes may only have to worry about it every ten days. Imagining a world where type 1 is only a challenge every ten days sounds like a dream! With that kind of power, we understand why this group is not willing to wait for change any longer.

  • Remote boluses and adjustments are possible in some models, which can make a huge difference in the lives of care-partners and parents. The remote-control command feature can allow care-partners to not only watch blood glucose trends remotely, but also interact with the basal and algorithm adjustments. This is a highly desirable feature that can help parents who worry about their children’s blood sugars while they are at school.

  • The DIY community is pushing industry forward. While technology companies begin to roll out commercial closed-loop systems, those who are building their own continue to innovate. There are a number of new adaptations in the pipeline – some products aim to provide better models of time in range, some want to adjust the insulin speed for hormonal responses like puberty, and some just want to reduce the overall daily challenges of diabetes. This work shows industry what kinds of features people desire and what is possible. It is an important collaboration, because the more companies do to improve technology, the better people will do.

  • A reminder that Looping and DIY solutions are not for everyone – the majority of people with type 1 diabetes or type 2 diabetes using insulin are still on MDI (multiple daily injections). We need to innovate on solutions that can help this large majority too, like new smart pens coming out.

Danielle Karsten offered insight into how the company is adapting their training and customer support systems in response to the increased interest in Control-IQ. The system has received great reviews due to the ease of use; people also appreciate the ability to download new software to get the latest generation of the pump without ordering the newest model.

  • Control-IQ is Tandem’s newest advanced hybrid closed loop system that is designed to increase time in range. It’s the second-ever commercial closed loop system to hit market, after Medtronic’s 670G. Control-IQ modulates basal insulin and gives correction boluses based on real-time CGM data, to help keep users in their target glucose range.

  • New steps have allowed many people to access the newest technology. Normally, to get a new system, people with diabetes would need to visit their healthcare team, have a pump prescribed for them, receive the pump hardware in the mail, and then go to in-person training to use it. Now, people who already have a Tandem t:slim pump are able to have the new software sent to their device when they want it. Karsten admitted, however, that Tandem was unprepared for the tidal wave of interest and had to redesign their web portal to handle the demand.

  • As a company, Tandem relies on social media for education and awareness. The company has led the way with savvy use of social media and a set of engaging YouTube videos to train users. This allows for more efficient self-help models.

  • Read Kerri Sparling’s first impressions of Control-IQ here, and read about the pros, cons, and takeaways of Control-IQ from Katie Bacon here.

The interactive session with Aimee Jose was a community-building exercise exploring best practices for creating training and support tools for diabetes self-management. Jose presented a short history of diabetes materials and ‘best-of’ examples of videos, infographics and interactive quizzes. Then nearly 100 people broke into groups of five, separated by “virtual” tables (it was great to see this done in a cool way online with the platform Remo), to discuss what strategies they found most powerful. The groups collectively brainstormed fresh ideas about how they could apply these engaging virtual channels to diabetes training and education. While we miss meeting in person and mourn for the reasons people cannot gather at this time of a global pandemic, this was a most valuable experience in virtual team building.

  • Jose explored some limitations of patient training and how to get around those issues. She discussed how manuals can often be clunky or difficult to understand, and how they represent a lost opportunity to develop a relationship with people with diabetes. By moving to videos – and better yet, interactive platforms – companies can enhance the user experience and understanding. This kind of adaptability can help people with diabetes learn how to manage their own care more effectively, and it will create a better health system for everyone.

  • The breakout sessions embraced “actual” users, and diversity in learning methods. Participants brought up the need for multiple ways for users to access the same information, as people learn in different ways: some are visual learners, some auditory, learners and still others kinesthetic. It’s important to recognize this and provide a variety of learning experiences. The discussions also recognized that it takes time to learn things, and that it is okay to fail at first – people with diabetes may need this reminder. This people-first style of learning requires a lot of adaptability on the part of the companies, but it can provide better care and better outcomes for people across the board.

As usual, the DiabetesMine team has outdone themselves – while #DData is an impressive gathering, they pulled this off in virtual style with so much happening in the field. Kudos to Amy Tenderich and all her internal and external colleagues who worked together and prompted so many insights to emerge, individually and collectively.

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