May 28, 2008

Prior Planning Prevents ...

Today Delaney's pump needed to be swapped out for maintenance. The light didn't come on. I don't know if it was the button or what. Don't care why. At 3:00 am I need a light in the pump.

Animas is very cool about swapping about a pump. I call and drive down and pick one up. It is not that bad a drive. I like the guy at the front desk. We talk cars. He has red VW GTi. It's sweet. It's his baby.

Back home a new pump need programing. That means either using EZmanager to upload and reload setting or doing it manually. I think I'll go manual. EZmanager is a dinosaur. So much so it didn't get reloaded into my computer after a hard drive crash last year.

I have felt this way for a while. In fact here is a letter vintage '06 I wrote the then incoming president of Animas. Much is about EZmanager. Some of this is posted elsewhere on YDMV. I edited the letter slightly due to my particularly bad spelling and a generally strange sentence or two.

He did write back. He said he wore a pump for a bit. Thanks for the input an all that.

Almost two years later, EZmanager is still a dysfunctional Access database application. You other Animas pumpers out there what do you think of it?

For that matter I see J&J IP addresses in the blog log regularly, so J&J what are you doing about it?

Mr. Mike Rechtiene
Animas Corporation
200 Lawrence Drive
West Chester, PA 19380

July 16, 2006

Dear Mike,

Congratulations on becoming Animas’ President. I wish I had a few more Animas shares in my IRA but hind sight is 20/20. As the father of two kids using Animas pumps I am rooting for Animas’ continued innovation and success, which is worth more to me than the portfolio anyway. In that vein I offer some user wish list suggestions for you all to ponder in your process of innovating more and better solutions for diabetic kids.

I read your bio in “Sweet Talk” the Animas pumpers magazine. I didn’t see anything in your background relating to Type 1 diabetes. To better understand your clients I hope you will take pump training class and wear a pump for a week pumping saline to get a feel for how your product is an integral part of your customers lives and how even minor changes can have a significant positive impact on their daily routines

The pumps are great. We have seen dramatic improvement in A1Cs that are a result of the better control the pumps offer. As good as they are they could be a lot better, mostly through information processing.

I feel the single biggest pump issue that could lead to better results is more pump memory. Enough memory for it to store everything that is entered into it, BG, carbs., times etc..

Yeah that is a lot of data points. Yes the meter does capture some of it. In theory they can be synchronized, in practice sync is a poor mix.

With the coming of continuous BG metering that is potentially a lot more data. Some may say that the pump is not the place to capture it, maybe, but the pump is where the insulin comes from. It is the place where users make and input choices. It is where the data needs to be considered before the pump is used so in my mind it is the logical repository of the information.

With continuous metering I would think the standard for recording data, including BG would be the basal increment, every 3 minutes. Yeah it is a ton of data, fortunately microprocessor memory is very small. All of the data should sync out of the pump to the desk top or PDA management system.

The ezManager desktop application needs an update. It isn’t particularly stable. It acts like an application stuck in a prior decade. It doesn’t conform to windows standards. It doesn’t like USB devices. You have users swapping cables into the computer’s serial port. As a result it doesn’t get used.

It would be great to be able to define or edit pump set up in the desktop application without the pump. We all had the coach some time, “Prior planning prevents pi** poor performance.” The problem is you can’t prior plan the pump with out connecting it via I.R..

Once the set up is configured it could be uploaded into the pump. As it is now the pump must be present to open the setup function, even recalling a setup configuration that is saved on the PC! That makes editing setup excessively cumbersome.

The 24 hour log in ezManager is a nice report. Unfortunately the basal insulin delivery on that report is at best misleading if not downright dangerous. As I understand it basal insulin is reported in totality for periods of time. Speciffically my understanding is the basal insulin for a few hours is totaled and reported in the last of those hours. So you have no basal for a while and a ton in one period. As it is the report is nicely designed but unfortunately unusable as it is reports information dead wrong.

If this report detailed the actual basal insulin delivered by hour, including changes as a result of a temp basal, and that could be matched up with BG then it would be a useful tool for managing basal rates. It would be even better if the pump remembered the time of bolus and carbs and that was reported too.

The pump user interface is cumbersome. Scrolling is at times strange and the whole thing needs an infusion of customization and simplification for users. Give the designers an iPod, there is and easy to use and customizable interface.

The food database is a great idea but we hardly ever use it. It is too much of a pain.

Do you eat a lot of Baby Foods? How about Beans? There they are the 2nd and 3rd groups of food items listed on the first screen of the food database. Two of the first six, 33% of the best screen real estate. You know what they say the three most important things about real estate are, Location, Location, Location.

Try thinking of the food groups like play lists on an iPod. Users should have that degree of customization of what food is in a food group and what to call the group. We should be able to put any food in any group, call the group what works for our lifestyles and have as many for few as we need to manage our diabetes. One size doesn’t fit all and one set of food groups doesn’t either, your diabetes may vary.

On the subject of that food database, top food items work great in the pump. How about cutting a deal with the supplier to get the PDA application for pump customers so we have the rest of the food items handy too? Handy is a word that here means in the smart phone (Treo, Blackberry, Q, iPhone etc) of our choice. .

Further customization of the pump would be great. Let the user define what the Audio Bolus Button does. Let them pick one screen the pump jumps to when it is pushed, if it isn’t in Audio Bolus mode. Ours would be set to carb smart.

Why is it harder for two?
Animas has a systematic bias against multiple pumps households. You send out email reminders it time to order. I have two kids and I never know which kid an email reminder from Animas is for. Maybe you could put the client name in the email instead of assuming there is only one pumper in the household?

You have an estore but it is a one client per email deal. Only client one can be linked to my email and estore account. I want to be able to place one order for stuff for both kids not two orders with one vendor. Nope I would need two emails to do that.

Most business have an affinity process where by clients who bring more business to a relationship are rewarded for it. Animas has the reverse. You make it harder, annoyingly harder, to bring more business to the relationship. The estore is a case in point.

Another is your upgrade practice. The longer we have been a client, supplying you with an annuity for supplies the higher the upgrade costs when a new product comes out. That supply annuity adds up. We get two days out of a set. So that's 15 sets a month. Set changes need reservoir changes so tack them on there too. IV Prep, yeah we need that. What's that worth 4-5 grand a year? So a guy buys a pump (or two in our case) and over a few years sends another ten plus grand your way for supplies for each pump and what is your reward for that customer loyalty? Higher upgrade fees if they want to upgrade to a newer pump.

Thanks for reading this. Don’t mistake all the ideas for improvement as dissatisfaction. We are convinced our pumps have made significant improvements in our lives.

Enjoy wearing the saline pump.

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