Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Disclosure: Medtronic & Roche

As my readers may know, my name is Scott Strumello, and I'm the publisher, author, editor-in-chief, CEO, as well as chief cook and bottle washer of "Scott's Web Log". For those of you who were NOT aware of it, when I re-designed my blog in February 2011 (actually, the work began a while earlier, but that's when I launched the new look), I more prominently featured my "Disclosure" statement which had been around for a while, although I never exactly promoted this fact.

Note that in the right-hand margin under the heading of "Recognition" (I really should find a new heading for the items in this section, but until I do, that's where the primary link to my disclosure is found). Just look for the blue button with a red check-mark and the text "I Disclose" to read my disclosure policy (just use your mouse over that button and click on it), or for a more direct route, simply visit http://disclose.sstrumello.com/.

Transparency

In the interest of full transparency, I'd also like to disclose to my readers that tomorrow, I will be travelling from my home-base in New York the Los Angeles area to a social media event being hosted by Medtronic Diabetes Care, perhaps best known for the Medtronic Minimed brand of insulin pumps, infusion sets and continuous glucose monitors. While there, I will get to see some of the Medtronic Sensor Manufacturing area which should be a great learning experience. Medtronic Diabetes Care is headquartered in Northridge, CA. Medtronic invited me and is paying for my travel, lodging and meals during this trip. I will be joined by a number of others in the collective North American diabetes online community at this event. Kelly Kunik of Diabetesaliciousness(TM) wrote about her involvement with this event last month (see HERE for details), and I was contacted by Medtronic even before I redesigned my blog and had a tool enabling that.

Medtronic's European Social Media Conference

Now, although this is Medtronic's first such event here in North America, evidently they held a similar event in Europe a few weeks ago, and held another one a year earlier in Medtronic Diabetes Care's location in Geneva, Switzerland (or as Put Up or Shoot Up's Tim Brown referred to it "Medtronic's Swiss Lair"). My North American peers may be interested to read some of the writing about the 2010 Medtronic Europe event at the following blog links:

http://www.shootuporputup.co.uk/2011/03/medtronic-locks-diabetics-in-room/

http://www.shootuporputup.co.uk/2011/03/drowning-puppies-in-lake-geneva/

http://www.diabetesinspain.com/featured/2nd-annual-medtronic-european-internet-forum/

http://mypumpblog.com/2011/03/24/2nd-annual-medtronic-european-internet-forum/

A post from last year's event can be viewed at:
http://www.diabetesinspain.com/featured/medtronic-diabetes-internet-forum-recap/

As you might infer from these posts (including an inside joke about drowning puppies in Lake Geneva), in much the same way as many of us in North America have bonded at other meet-ups, apparently, so have our counterparts "across the pond" as more than a few UK residents are fond of saying. Maybe we can compare notes, and perhaps ... someday, someone will decide to arrange a diabetes social media event in Reykjavik, Iceland, which is about the same distance from New York as it is from London? One can wish, can't they?!

Odd-Man Out?

I should note that among my fellow North American diabetes blogger peers, I may one of a few odd-men out because I do not presently wear an insulin pump (along with Bennet Dunlap, of "Your Diabetes May Vary ['YDMV']"), who's a parent of no-longer-children with diabetes -- hey, it happens!), although I'm certainly no stranger to insulin pumps. Then, Tom Karlaya (whose children are also blessed with type 1 diabetes) will also be joining us, so not everyone there will be tethered to pumps. I don't believe they are seeking that, what they want is to gain a wider perspective for the diabetes community at large.

I can best be described as a "former pump-wearer" (I blogged a bit about that HERE) with a competitor, no less. The reasons are varied, and my d-blogging peers sometimes respond to that with disbelief. Although I don't want to make this post about why I went back to multiple daily injections, but I can say that durable medical equipment limits with my insurance played a role (at the time), but also the fact that more than 90% of my total daily dosage is prandial insulin and that my basal rates were essentially unchanged throughout the day except for the few hours before I wake up, and I can truthfully say that my glycemic management did not suffer at all since returning to MDI.

I'm not unwilling to re-consider a pump, but most likely not one of Medtronic's present line-up because I'm not a fan of pumps with tubing. That, incidentally, seems to be a family trait, as my older sister with type 1, who by-the-way, avoided a pump for longer than I did -- 41 years by my calculations, but that all changed after at Diabetes Research Institute's Diabetes 2.0 Conference my sister attended with me and a few other d-bloggers. She started wearing a pump for the first time around Chistmas 2009, and has been pretty happy with her tube-less Omnipod since then, but this conversation is digressing, so back to the point: disclosure.

As I note in my disclosure policy, unlike some bloggers, I do not now, nor have I ever, actively solicit what is euphemistically referred to in some blogging circles as "blog-ola" (various free stuff targeted towards bloggers), nor have I traditionally made it easy for commercial entities (or individuals) to reach me. The most enterprising individuals did leave comments which worked, but it wasn't as easy as clicking on my profile. In fact, even today, I still do not publish my personal e-mail address anywhere online. As I noted above, since I redesigned Scott's Web Log in February, I have added a new "e-mail me" button which utilizes a third-party contact service which can also be accessed by visiting http://kontactr.com/user/sstrumello as a way to connect with my readers without actually publishing my personal contact information online. That's been great, but don't waste your time trying to find my e-mail online because it's not out there -- and that's by design.

Beyond that, I also wish to disclose that Roche Diabetes Care has also invited me to a Conference they'll be holding in San Diego, CA from June 22 through the morning of June 24, 2011, although I have not yet determined whether I will be able to attend. That happens to be where the ADA's Annual Scientific Sessions meeting is also being held this year. In the event that I DO attend, Roche would be paying for my travel, lodging and food at this event, but it's not completely free -- I would still have to use my personal vacation days to participate in this event (although a trip to enjoy some of the awesome San Diego weather will be worth it!). Roche invited me to a similar event held last year, and also the prior summer, and I have also participated (voluntarily) in a social media advisory board that Roche seeks patient input on. Truthfully, I believe the company has listened to at least a few of our suggestions. For example, in the Accu Chek television spots, Roche now promotes the inclusion a discount card that enables patients to obtain test strips for as little as $15, which was a huge discussion at their first meeting in Indianapolis a few years ago.

Now, I have not been shy about which testing supplies I use (see HERE, although it took me a while to exhaust my OneTouch Ultra strip supply, and now I have a few left that I am trialling with a new Android application. But the reality is that few patients actually choose which meters and test strips they will use; this stuff is frequently chosen or heavily influenced by insurance company formularies and complex pricing strategies deployed, and the brand I use today could change overnight if my employer chooses a new healthcare provider (again), so consider the context that such decisions are made within.

Then again, I was previously a fan of Roche's infusion sets when I wore a pump (although at the time, Roche had not yet acquired the Swiss firm formerly known as Disetronic whose Ultraflex set was my infusion set of choice when I used to actually wear an insulin pump).

So, while I look forward to seeing at least a few of my fellow diabetes advocates/bloggers in L.A. and I hope it proves to be a productive meeting for all parties involved, just know that there's a much larger community out there as our Euro D-Bloggers out there can attest, not to mention the Australia-New Zealand (Oceania?) group, too. But with each meeting, more contacts are established which expand this virtual community in a way that online interactions cannot.

I can only hope my readers will see this perspective the same way!

6 comments:

Cara said...

Congrats on your invitation to both. You'll represent the rest of us well. :)

Mike said...

Hi Scott.. Thanks for the shout out and I hope that both Tim's and mine articles are both entertaining and informative.

As discussed, it will be great to hear about your experiences.

PS; Tim is to blame for the Puppy Drowning. 【ツ】

Deb said...

as one of those dreaded marketing peeps - I encourage you (and all who are attending) to be as open and honest as you feel comfortable with when interacting with Companies such as MDT and Roche. I applaud them for reaching out to the DOC as they will only benefit from gathering real world experience and exposure. And I'm thrilled for all of you - the DOC is an incredible (and growing!) group of people who are wonderfully supportive, encouraging and just plain good people (who just happen to be 'blessed' with having diabetes in their lives!). Safe travels!

Michael Hoskins said...

Scott: Thanks for doing what you do, my friend, and representing all of us in the diabetes community so well. I've been watching the MM progress in engaging the community for years, and was really impressed when they did their first European summit... Glad they finally jumped into that game here, and hopefully this is the first of many steps that will continue being taken. As you have with Roche and from everything I've seen you write here, I know you'll be honest and represent us all well! Looking forward to reading how it all goes from everyone.

Scott K. Johnson said...

Hey Scott,

Looking forward to seeing you at both events.

I think it is important for everyone to know that these trips are not all fun and games, and that we are all volunteering our time to attend. That time is time away from family, time away from paying work, and time lost to other opportunities.

There is also money that comes out of pocket, at least for a while, such as parking at the airport, and checking any bags you might bring, etc. That money is usually reimbursed, but it still has to come out of pocket for a while.

For those of us not working enough, these trips are often terribly hard to afford. But I think it is important to attend to do whatever I can for the greater good - helping those that live with diabetes.

retsofnv said...

Hi Scott,

Enjoy your trip. I would love to take the Medtronic Tour. My 10 year-old has been on their Minimed pump for just over a year. We just received a Medtronic CGM from our HMO and will be training on it with the Diabetes Educator at our Pediatric Endocrinologist's office on Monday morning. We are hoping that the CGM will help us spot some trends (especially during school hours and over night) that will let us fine tune her pump for even better control. I will check back to see what you thought of the event.

Regards,

Jeff Foster