April 3, 2011

#medtronicDAF Disclosure Statement

I was privilege to be invited to join the folks from Medtronic at a social media even this April Fools day in LA.  I went and I still don't know what the DAF in the hash tag stands for, Diabetes Air Force maybe?

I saw good friends from the Diabetes Online Community, some face to face for the first time. Met some new friends both from the DOC and Medtronic.

There are a couple of thing people ask me about events like this like: "Why you?" and "Are they seducing you to the dark side?" OK the second one doesn't typically get phrased with a fun movie reference but you get the idea.

I don’t know how they chose to invite who they did. It has to be hard. There are a lot of great voices in the DOC, I don't think that mine is any better than a myriad of others and we are not a Medtronic user.

I have traded emails and phone calls with the folks at Medtronic. They once asked if I would consider a post about their Lenny iPod app.  I chose not to and shared some of the reservations I had as a parent about the app. They fixed some of the things I was concerned about but I still never wrote about it. (Yes I am an ungrateful arse.)  Another time I did write about a driving program they sponsored. That is about it. I don't know why me.

I do think they are nice enough people. They have jobs and selling pumps make the pay checks happen. They seem to do those jobs very well. Except for Jonathan the sensor engineer. He was better than very good as a plant tour guide. If you have a kid who is interested in engineering, find a way to have'm spend time with that guy. He is funny, inspired by machines and process, very personable and a strong communicator. See: more evidence of the dark side, except I don't buy what he builds but man building them is a heck of a thing. 

When asked about how they chose who to invite, they said they were looking to hear a variety of voices. They read the DOC daily.  They know who's who. I know there were folks invited who couldn't make it. Medtronic did said they were looking for some honest feed back. 

I think they got it.

Still the evenet was stupid fun. I would be flat out lying if I said anything else. It was a mini diabetes camp for grownups, not that I actually acted all that grown up. It was also an exhausting three days of time away from home, two of which were spent in a coach seats on very full Airbusses and I didn't have enough episodes of Community on my iPhone to make that time pass pleasantly.

Medtronic didn’t push product. They can't talk about stuff that is into the FDA. We tried to get them to anyway. They looked tempted, but there is stuff they just will not talk about. They did say that CareLink (is that what it is called?) for Apple computers has been blessed and will be announced to the public this week. Maybe even tomorrow.  They did share some of their personal stories and connections to type 1. In many cases it is very personal. More on that in a different post.

Will Dubois (in the spirit of full disclosure I think the world of Will aka Lee) and I were laughing on the ride to Medtronic in the morning that we were both kinda surprised to be there. He has been a critic, harsh at times apparently. He has some fairly clear ideas about Luer-Lok that he shared again just in case they forgot. Anyway Will and I talked about the fact that we, as a community, need the durable medical guys. We need them to compete, to be successful and pursue profitable innovative products. Their market success means better care for pumpers. That is the trade off but we have more skin in the game than they do. It is their livelihood, it is our lives.

That we need device manufacturers to be successful and that I would hold back comments in exchange for two days in coach aren’t even anyplace near each other. Still you are free to form your own opinions about that. I hope I continue to earn your trust that: 1) I get around to saying what is on my mind and 2) the time between me saying what is on my mind and the time it gets there is typically nano seconds.

Do I hope Medtronic got good feed back? Yes. I think they did. Do I hope they will do more events like this? Yes. Do I want to go? Oh hell yeah. Did I screw that up by suggesting to one dude that comments about winning in the market place sound like Charlie Sheen? Yeah I did that too.

Why me? Well it probably because it was April Fools and they needed a fool. As for the dark side, nobody claimed to be my dad.


  1. All the people that I know that were there had a reason to be. Medtronic did a fantastic job with their choices. And I'm glad that they are making a step to listen to consumers in the form of people in the D-OC.

  2. Ha! Love that you are a Dark Sider! Me too.

  3. So what where the suggestions?

  4. Inter-vesting! It does seem crazy this whole thing - medical companies talking to patients. Quite why this is only just a new thing is a bit weird, no?

    Anyway, glad you had a good time; though I suspect the Medtronic event in Europe was better than yours. We always do things better in Europe :-b

  5. I don't know Tim, better in Europe?

    Dude we were practically in Beverly Hills, Movie stars, swimming pools. Uncle Jeb said I could learned me up to be a double naught spy.

  6. Puh! Movie stars - puh! Swimming pools - puh!

    We were in sunny Lausanne - like the rest of Switzerland it's famed for, uhm, urr, well swept streets and, uhm, clean lakes, and, uhm, orderly cutlery racks in hotels.

    Switzerland is *the* place to be! ;-)

  7. Aww- Thanks! I loved doing it and you guys were great. I did say I love getting questions- and you didn't disappoint. I'm always happy to help in any way I can. :)

    -Jonathan, The Engineer Tour Guide from the Dark Side ;)