Reaching the Summit.
On Monday afternoon, BSparl, Chris, and I boarded a plane bound for Orlando, Florida. (It was our first trip with the baby - more on that later, because I'm still processing all the stuff required to travel with an infant.) My trip was dual-purposed: to attend the Roche Social Media Summit and then co-lead a focus group on Wednesday morning at Friends for Life.
Like everyone else, I have a disclosure with this: Roche paid for my plane tickets to and from Florida, and they also covered my hotel room for Monday and Tuesday night. But they didn't hold me over a shark tank to gain input from me, and I am also still using my brain on my own, so basically they can only claim travel, food during the conference, and lodging. They also didn't ask us to blog about the event (even though they knew we would).
But like I said last year, Roche is smart because they know by bringing together a pile of bloggers, Roche will be discussed on a pile of blogs. And also in step with last year, Roche treated us respectfully and worked hard to make sure we were happy, as a group. But I can't lie: I was excited to attend this event because it would put me in "real life" touch with my extended diabetes family. The invitation coming from Roche makes it a "Roche" event, and I can't hide my bias when it comes to being grateful to them for having the opportunity to socialize with my social media friends. So that's the full disclosure.
The event took place as a bookend to the CWD "Friends for Life" conference, which seemed to dictate the timing and location. I think there was a total of thirty-seven bloggers, representing the type 1 community heavily, but with voices from the type 2 and caregiver crew as well, and we were hanging out in a conference ballroom at the Orlando Marriott all day on Tuesday.
The Roche representatives were very cool to us, and didn't seem to have an agenda of expectations - just an agenda of events. They had us engaged in discussions about meter accuracy and they also invited in representatives from the American Diabetes Association and the American Association of Diabetes Educators to talk with us. I felt a little quiet during these discussions (thanks to the utter lack of sleep the night before, with BSparl not adjusting to the travel schedule and deciding to stay up until about 4 am), but I kept an eye on the Roche reps during the chats, because I wanted to see what they were reacting to. (That, and there was this long table set up at the back of the room, where a few of the Roche team members sat, watching us. So I went over to them and let them know I was watching THEM. Now the student has become the teacher, grasshopper. /Confucius rant)
Overall, discussions were interesting. Meter accuracy has been a hot topic for a while now, with the FDA meetings and an explosion in the blogosphere, and it was a topic of utmost importance for me during the course of my pregnancy. It amazes me still that meters are "allowed" to be 20% off, and that we almost have to choose accuracy over cost when it comes to test strips. (More on that later.) And while the ADA panel of guests answered questions, I still couldn't help but wonder how the ADA spoke for me, as a person with type 1 diabetes. (More on that later, too.)
But the Summit itself wasn't about the discussions or the agenda of our host Pharma company. (Even though, and I'm being completely honest here - I'm impressed that Roche wants to sit in the same room with a bunch of bloggers. We aren't known for being quiet or demure, that's for damn sure, and we don't have a penchant for butt-kissing. So they get us and our opinions, raw and unadulterated. Yet, this is the second year they've invited us to meet with them. I remain impressed.) The Summit is about bloggers getting to know one another offline, and whether or not Roche understands that aspect wins out over any Pharma agenda, it doesn't matter. People power wins over scheduled discussions.
So thanks to the Pharma company that dared to play host to bloggers for the second year in a row. And thanks to the diabetes blogging community, which plays a huge part in improving my emotional diabetes health.
(Oh, and thanks to the Photobooth, which let Scott and I pretend to be lions in the first shot and let us see up George's nose in the last one.)