April 4, 2011

I’m Not Clark Kent

... so that rules out superman too.

Clark is an ace reporter. I am not so good at the who, what, where, when, how but then come to think of it I never noticed Clark doing much actual reporting either. For actual play by play of the Medtronic social media event I think there may be more accurate recounting by the folks who were taking notes on laptops. Keep your eyes open I am sure the reports will start flowing in.

Here roughly the outline of the day. I try to add some color commentary:

  • Amanda Sheldon, Director Medtronic PR opened and we got her talking and ran into the time that was allotted for:
  • Katie Szyman who has been President of the diabetes business unit for a year and a half.
  • Lane Desborough who’s title was Product Specialist. He is an engineer who recently joined MM from other larger industrial chemical engineering endeavors following his son’s T1 DX.
  • Brad Monosmith introduced an app for that where that is diabetes and the long arm of the law keeps the device and the app from talking to each other.
  • We took a picture:

  • We talked more about a closed look and connectivity With Lane and Todd Robin director of CGMs.
  • Dr Francine Kaufman spoke from clinical and medical research perspective and shared some research on a pump in Europe that turns off insulin with hypos. Due to certain Minister of Magic regulations we’ll just call it the Pump the Can Not Be Named.  (I’m kidding FDA, it was a Joke, no need to call out the Dementors from the IRS)
  • Dr. Richard Rubin of Hopkins talked about diabetes burnout. Great stuff. One key point - Joking around about diabetes is good (that FDA as the dark arts bit was strictly medicinal I swear! Oh wait that means I need to wait years for clearance before using it...)
  • There was a cool tool tour of the sensor manufacturing plant.

We interrupted and talked over everyone of these folks and led them down all kinds of digressions. Scott Johnson drank all the diet Dr Pepper.

Probably the most shocking utterance was early in the day when Lane used a dirty word:


Yeah I know! The nerve of that guy. It sets off all kinds of emotional responses doesn’t it?  But he didn’t mean it like ‘you diabetic scum need to be compliant and be in range all the time - how hard can it be? what the heck is wrong with you.’ He used it as an engineer.

Engineers speak a different language. To them control isn’t profanity.  It is a process of transferring variability from one place to another. In the diabetes case to transfer some variability in blood glucose to variability in electrical current. Then to use that electric variation as feed back to have an impact on BG. He went on to talk about the success of that transfer in two time frames; first the moment and second over time. It was all very geeky and since I am a little geeky I thought it was all very fascinating.

More fascinating was the idea that some problems have been solved in other disciplines and those solutions can be transferred to diabetes care. Engineers transfer variability in large complex refineries to systems that manage outcomes in the moment and over time. It keeps the plants from blowing up. Possibly the algorithms, logic and processes used there can be brought to bear on the reality of your diabetes varying.

That I found this interesting is proves what I said, I am a geek at heart. So is Lane because he appreciated the need to minimize the space on a kids’ Bat Belts (and bat bellies) for all the stuff this may involve.

Somewhere in all this we got a first pass at the idea of data standardization. Since Bernard (BandYard) Farrell missed his flight to to a snow storm, the rest of us were more than happy to provide a little of the open honest feedback our Medtronic hosts were looking for. I happen to have ranted about data standards a bit, not as long as Bernard. He is the patients’ Superman of Data Standardization. I am more of the Jimmy Olsen on the beat.  When I get into trouble he saves me. Interestingly the engineers seemed to agree that data standards would be valuable and I don’t know that the business / lawyers side of the equation feels the same way. I am fairly confident Medtronic heard the standards message, more than once. It is one of the messages I was there to share.
That is a conversation worth having. We are the market. If we as the market start and keep demanding it it may happen. When there is a movement to standards, it will have to get past the whole secretive FDA dark arts process. I don’t expect them soon.


  1. BarnYard here. Thanks for the feedback Bennet. We should start talking about data standards with both the FDA and the device companies. FYI, I did put a Diabetes Data wiki online to track some of the ways to get data out of the various devices.

  2. Bennet: Great recap, and thank you so much for attending and representing. Love the Harry Potter references, too... Nicely done. It'll be interesting to see the discussion continue and hopefully expand to even more throughout all sectors of the D-Community - patient, product-maker, regulatory, international umbrella, and maybe one day insurance. Good stuff, indeed. Oh, and you're right: you did more solid reporting here than I've EVER seen Clark Kent do!

  3. It was great to meet you Bennet! It was a great forum for sure!