February 1, 2009

Zen and Consumer Manny

Manny Hernandez wrote a piece at Diabetes Daily called Call Me Patient, Not Consumer. Manny makes the point that the difference is in how firms view their clients. Allow me to paraphrase him, Consumer is a profit maximization outlook and patient is a health first view.

Manny was writing about web 2.0. I understand Manny’s point and feel a similar frustration and conflict with the software tools we get from pump and meter manufacturers. Are we getting the best products for the management of diabetes or the best sales tie in for the makers of the stuff? Specifically are the proprietary data formats and software applications serving to help those of us who manage diabetes, manage diabetes or are they marketing devices to bind us closer to specific providers of supplies.

My view is that the data is the patients. That data should be in a standardized data format so that we can use our data, to treat our diabetes, with their products, in the way we see fits our lives. We should be able to use our data, from what ever meter, pumps or CGM we like, across analysis programs.

Our needs will vary. So should their ability to serve us.

Maybe we the patients need to act like consumers. We should express to the application providers the very simple idea that we can change vendors. If they can’t provide flexibility, we will find a vendor who can.

Some of my vendors shrug their shoulders and ignore what I have to say. To them I am one (well two really, thank you very much) patient(s). They think about customers by the thousands.

Now maybe they would think differently if thousands of customers raises their voices and said, “We expect our data to be portable and we going to take our business to those providers who support standards” Maybe then we would get portable standards.

So Manny, maybe we need to change our view of ourselves to customers of services, and demand better service, to get them to treat us like patients.