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Posts tagged ‘Animas’

What Does the DOC Mean to You?

This video is one of the last ones I did for Animas, but it’s one of my favorites because it features some of the friendliest faces in the Diabetes Online Community.

Much love to the folks who offered to share their perspectives on the diabetes community, and thanks for being part of the family.

If you are up for chiming in: What does the DOC mean to you?

Back to School.

How is “going back to school” like “going to the endo?”  I’m learning more about life’s parallels every day.  New column up over at Animas:

It reminded me of going to the pediatric endocrinologist’s office when I was a little kid, sitting in the waiting room with my mother.  After checking in with the receptionist, my mom and I would sit in the waiting room.  I’d read my book or play with the toys that were scattered around the room while my mother reached into her canvas work bag and pulled out my blood sugar logs and her list of questions for the endo.  Her brow would instantly furrow.  She, like pretty much every other parent in that waiting room, looked overwhelmed and a little unsure about what might happen next.

Over time, preparing for the endocrinologist visits became a little like preparing for going back to school.  There was a list of things I was supposed to take care of between visits (blood sugar checks are equivalent to summer reading lists in this comparison) and documents I needed to prepare for discussion.  There are (blood) tests to take and teachers who I learned from.  A1Cs felt (still feel?) like report cards.  And sometimes my endo straight schools me on diabetes, tweaking my doses and opening my mind to alternative solutions.  As much as I’ve learned, there’s still more to learn.

[Animas disclosures here]

Care What the Community Thinks, Not What the Community Buys.

[I have a working relationship with Animas. My disclosures are here; please read them.]

During the middle of one of our discussion sessions, Daniela D’Onofrio let fly a statement that defined the whole blogger summit for me:

“Care what the community thinks, not what the community buys.”

Last week, the European Animas team brought a group of diabetes advocates together for a face-to-face discussion. This meeting is very special to me because it serves as a portal into the global diabetes online community, bringing advocates from different countries, speaking different languages, together at the same actual table.

And at that same table is the company responsible for believing in our voices: Animas. Several years ago, there was an air of awkwardness when it came to plunking different diabetes demographics into the room – did you really want to talk about the company RIGHT IN FRONT OF THE COMPANY? It felt weird. Strange, kind of like when someone asks if they have something in their teeth and you know you owe it to them to fess up about the giant chunk of broccoli sitting between their two front fangs but instead you say, “Nah! You’re fine,” and then nothing changes.

This was a meeting that included talking about that broccoli. We weren’t in an ivory tower talking about ivory tower-type things. We hit upon topics that felt uncomfortable at times, including the absence of type 2 voices at the table, and the perception of our meeting from the outside. It got sticky, the discussions, because we didn’t dance around any awkwardness. Instead, we tried to embrace it to move forward. When respect is coupled with honesty, more good comes of it. Now, years after those first meetings between the diabetes community and diabetes companies, people are being straight up about their needs and wants. There’s a power to that.

And, as a group, we recognized our privilege. We knew we were flipping lucky to be in that room, many with the support of Animas, and that the meeting is not a yearly guarantee. So we took advantage of our time together. We were honest, regardless of who was listening or taking notes. Our agenda included topics around incorporating and encouraging type 2 diabetes voices, diabetes and well-being, working through advocacy burnout, and building trust between diabetes companies and diabetes communities.

Annie has written about her experiences at the summit here, with some detail from her perspective on the sessions. More posts from other attendees are in the works, and the event was sort of documented on Twitter using the #IntlDOCExchange15 hashtag.

For me, the discussion about type 2 voices was the most eye-opening. It was understood that we were there with the Animas team, so therefore the folks in attendance were either Animas users or caregivers to Animas users. With insulin pumps not indicated for use by people with type 2 across the board, it made sense that the attendees were people touched by type 1 diabetes. Made sense, but still seemed wrong. We talked for a long time about how uncomfortable it can be, at times, to bring different groups together at times, but how necessary it is on the whole. I’ve been a longtime proponent of bridging the gaps between types (ashamed to admit my own preconceived notions in the past) and it felt good to see the people in our sessions talking openly about the common ground between the diabetes types, even if not everyone saw that common ground at first glance. People are people, regardless of their diabetes “type,” and to pretend we don’t have common ground is truly unreasonable.

Together, we’re stronger; no caveat added.

It was in that last session that Daniela summed up every company interaction (or simply every interaction, ever) that’s been productive, at least for me. Understanding and caring about the needs of the people touched by diabetes is what really matters; community and business objectives alike benefit from that level of interaction and involvement. This applies to people with type 1 diabetes, type 2 diabetes, type whatever diabetes.

So how can diabetes companies best serve the overall community? By caring more about what people think than what they buy. (Or, in terms that are more my speed: Give a shit about PEOPLE, not purchases.)

And I think that’s happening. Less slowly than before, and certainly surely, patient advocates across the health condition spectrum are raising their voices and being HEARD.

EU Blogger Summit

A photo posted by Kerri Sparling (@sixuntilme) on

Our group’s viewpoints were not representative of the entire diabetes community (just as my post here is not representative of the entire summit), or even of our respective regions, but it was powerful to have different individual opinions shared comfortably and openly. Many people in the group were returning to the meeting for the third or fourth time, but there were a few new faces, and it was encouraging (inspiring, even) to see those new voices welcomed into the fold.

I’m very appreciative that Animas trusted me to facilitate these discussions, and allowed me the opportunity to meet with my global DOC partners to move the mission forward. Especially when they, as a company, are not dictating the mission, but are instead along for the ride with our community as a partner. Props, and thanks, for that, and for pointing out the broccoli while simultaneously picking it out of their own teeth.

(And with that, I’ll end that particular gross and specific metaphor.)

Running the Gamut of Emotions.

In my diabetes life, emotions are right up there with insulin and food as influencers of blood sugar management.  And I wish it wasn’t so, because stress and excitement are hard to “plan.”  (Replace those actual quotation marks with finger quotes, because they fit the bill a bit better.)  And the emotions that come up as a result of diabetes crap?  Holy shit, they are a circus all their own.

The emotions of diabetes are a thing for me, and one that I need to work to manage as fastidiously as I work on my numbers.  Which is why my Animas column this month is about that exact thing:

“Diabetes is more than the lab work results and pricking fingers, taking insulin, counting carbs.  That’s the to-do list we have to check every day, but it doesn’t even begin to touch the other side of life with a chronic illness, and that’s the headspace part.  Some of my academic friends call it the psychosocial part; I think of it as the emotional portion of managing my diabetes, and in my life, managing my headspace is as important as managing my blood sugars.

There’s a whole range of emotions connected to diabetes that I run though on any given day.”

For the full article, click over to my columns at Animas.  And for more on emotions and diabetes, you can basically read anything I’ve ever written here on SUM.  🙂

An Animas Assist for Snap Users.

All disclosures out of the way first:  You guys know I have a professional relationship with Animas, as they have been a partner of mine since 2010, details outlined here.  Bias lens firmly in place?  Continue on.

Today I have a Q&A with John Wilson, the new VP of Insulin Delivery at Johnson & Johnson about Asante closing, the Animas connection, and an option for patients who have been left a little in the lurch.  

*   *   *

Kerri:  John, thanks for talking with me today.  Could you give a little background on who you are and what’s your diabetes connection?

John Wilson:  I’ve been in the healthcare industry my entire professional life, most recently working in oncology pharmaceuticals. In order to be successful, I need to have passion for what I do, and the diabetes space is easy for me to get my emotional arms around because I have a family connection.  Let’s face it, we all know people living with diabetes, and it’s very clearly an area of high unmet need.  I’m now leading the insulin delivery platform, focusing on Animas and Calibra products.  I work alongside my partners in the blood glucose monitoring platform – also known as Lifescan – and collectively, we are Johnson & Johnson Diabetes Solutions Companies.

Kerri:  Asante Snap users were thrown for a loop last week when the company announced it was closing its doors.  How is Animas planning to help take care of those customers who were left high and dry?

John Wilson:  This announcement caught everyone off guard, and I have empathy for both sides of it.  I know some of the people at Asante and that they care about the individuals in this community and are dedicated to this space, and I know pump users had to react suddenly to this news.  I was grateful that they [Asante] reached out to us to see if we could help.

Kerri:  So how is Animas helping these folks?

John Wilson:  First, we assembled a call-in line for Asante patients with specially trained Animas folks to triage their calls.  That number is 1-877-937-7867 X1562.  From a HIPPA compliance perspective, we couldn’t reach out to Asante users, so we had to wait for them to reach out to us, and we wanted to be ready to help.

The offer is pretty simple:  We are offering the choice of two pumps – the Animas Vibe with the integrated Dexcom G4 technology and the Animas One Touch Ping, and for patients under 18 we are offering the One Touch Ping.  It’s a net cost of $99 for the patient, with an upfront of $799 which, upon receipt of the Asante pump, we will credit back $700.  The Animas pumps are brand new [not refurbished] and we will honor balance of the warranty of their Asante pump.  This offer is available until July 17th.

Kerri:  How will Animas handle things like insurance for people who are transitioning?

John Wilson:  We know this need is immediate, and given the number of insurers, in order to determine whether or not they would cover it, it would take too long for the patient to be back up and running.  This is why we decided to address the immediate need with the $99 cost to the patient.

Kerri:  Customer service means so much to people who are living with diabetes, as our lives depend on receiving our supplies and medications in a timely manner.  This is big deal.  How does Animas plan to handle their existing customer base while helping the incoming PWD?

John Wilson: My team is focused on streamlining processes and improving the customer experience, and we have invested in this area.  It’s critical that we get this right.  We want to reduce the amount of time that people remain on hold, we want to call people right back and make the process as seamless as possible.  I recognize we have had misses in the past, but I’m committed to removing obstacles in order to make this process better.

I think it’s always best to operate transparently.  If I fall short of your expectations, I should acknowledge that.   My hope is that we can ultimately exceed everyone’s expectations.

*   *   *

So here’s the fine print:  There aren’t any returns, exchanges, or upgrades in this offer.  To start the process of receiving a replacement Animas Insulin Pump, they are asking that any Asante Snap pump patients to call toll free 1-877-937-7867 X1562.  Their Customer Care Representatives are available to help people out Monday – Friday, 8:00 AM – 8:00 PM EST.  Here’s a link to all the stuff.

It’s also important – and exciting! – to note that the Asante technology is not lost and gone forever.  Last week, Bigfoot Biomedical purchased all of Asante’s pump resources, with plans to pair the pump with Bigfoot Biomedical’s artificial pancreas components.  Way more details are in the diaTribe article, if you’d like to read up.  Also, Animas is just one of the pump companies who are stepping up to meet the needs of the Asante users.  Tandem has their offer outlined here and Medtronic details are here.

Updated:  Diabetes Mine has a great interview with Bigfoot Biomedical’s Jeffrey Brewer up today!

Man, this post keeps going.  I’m going to stop it now, but not without adding this awesome .gif (courtesy of The Space Cupcake):


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