And we all had a jolly good chat.
Having sold my soul to Medtronic for the price of an easyjet flight to Geneva, I am obliged to say I had a marvellous time at the 2nd Medtronic Diabetes Internet Forum. The fact that is also true is obviously diluted by the fact that they paid for my bed and lunch.
An interesting mix of bright, intelligent bloggers and diabetes types from around Europe perched on the edge of their seats to hear about Medtronic’s latest product developments and research activities. As someone who’s used Medtronic sensors for the last 4 years, I was delighted to have a quick play with their soon to be launched new CGM sensors that we mentioned briefly on ShootUp the other week. A bit like talking about marriage on a first date, if you press them for a commitment on timescales they get a bit wary but I got the impression for the UK we’re talking soon as in weeks and months rather than years. In wedding terms, I think I’d be buying a hat this season.
While I’m a big fan of their current sensor, I’ve always felt it was a little over-engineered – as if they’d designed the 3ft insertion needle so that it could be used to penetrate even an elephant’s thick skin. The new model was definitely designed with humans in mind which was a very pleasant discovery. More comfort and improved accuracy is definitely the way to go. I’m not sure what diabetic elephants will do now though.
I would like to say more about the sensor, but then I’d be obliged to kill you while Medtronic hunted me down. As we have readers around the world and I don’t know exactly where many of you live, I’m afraid I’m just not willing to take on that logistical nightmare.
New stuff aside, we had a good old chat about how we can all work together. Personally, I’ve never subscribed to the “big pharma are evil” school of thought. I see it that their financial success is based on keeping me alive for as long as possible. And I have slightly more skin in the game as my future quality of life is dependent on them being financially successful so that they can invest in future research and product development. So, if I can work with them to make sure what they develop is what I want and that the NHS makes those products available to the broken pancreas populous, we all win. That’s why I like it when they get real customers like me in to talk to them.
For the first time ever, this weekend I asked a big company to send me more junk mail. I only have to buy a tin of beans from Tesco and they email me. Yet I’ve spent thousands with Medtronic over the last four years and I don’t hear a peep from them. While receiving free Airmiles with ever sensor purchased would be lovely, what I actually asked for was to be kept informed. Let me know about your new products when you launch them. Without completely destroying your business model and revealing your secrets to your competitors, let me know about the research you’re doing and your product plans. I know you keep my consultant updated, but I like to hear this stuff from the horse’s mouth. Lots of nods of agreement from Medtronic marketing types – good stuff.
There were of course the obligatory puppy drowning escapades that come with any visit to a major player in the healthcare market, but I’ll leave Tim to tell you about that. I’ll finish by saying thank you to Medtronic for hosting the event, good on them for taking the time to get some input from their customers. I learnt a lot, met some interesting people and felt like they got some useful feedbackfrom us too. It’s almost as if working together is the way to tackle this diabetes thing, who’d have thought it?