A CDE on Diabetes Innovation: “Proficiency Before Products”

Yesterday we heard thoughts directly from the FDA coming out of our recent DiabetesMine Innovation Summit event. Today, another perspective altogether is offered by Gary Scheiner, a long-time type 1 patient himself and respected certified diabetes educator. Gary is of course author of the seminal book “Think Like a Pancreas” and is known for thinking out of the box when it comes to educating patients.

Gary says the ideas below were “some random hypoglycemically-induced thoughts that ran through my head during the Summit meeting”:


A Guest Post by Gary Scheiner

Greetings from rainy San Francisco (actually Palo Alto).  I was invited to participate for the second time in the DiabetesMine Innovation Summit coordinated by Ms. Amy Tenderich on the Stanford University campus.  I’m surrounded by a rather eclectic mixture of inventors, industry representatives, marketing specialists, diabetes media honchos (hi Kelly!), and healthcare providers.  Heck – there are even some representatives from the FDA here to discuss whatever it is they do to stifle innovation. The purpose of the meeting is to recognize those who have come up with creative diabetes products and discuss what it takes to bring these types of products successfully to market.

One of the major points of emphasis is the need for patients themselves to take a greater role in their own management.  Which got me thinking… what about the products we already have?  After all, don’t we currently have a variety of pumps, pens, meters, CGMs and download options available to us?  Wouldn’t it make more sense to make better use of those items before we invest a lot of money and energy in developing more stuff ?

Maybe I’m slightly biased when it comes to this.  After all, I am a diabetes educator.  I spend the vast majority of my time working with people who have access to some rather sophisticated products and medications, yet they can’t seem to get the kind of results they were hoping for.  It reminds me of a situation years ago when we bought my grandfather his first microwave oven.  It only had 4 buttons, but even that was too much.  He continued to walk to the local convenience store to buy his meals because he was afraid he would start a fire if he pressed the wrong buttons.  (we eventually solved the problem by getting him a microwave with a dial that he was comfortable with).

Granted, it’s been a while since anyone started a fire by pressing the wrong button on their glucose meter.  But making effective use of the tools we have available is of the utmost importance.  And that only happens with training and education.  Patients who receive appropriate guidance from their healthcare providers and training from diabetes educators consistently outperform those who do not.

Gathering thoughts at the Innovation Summit

Ask yourself this:  Does your diabetes care provider look at your information/situation in detail?  Do they offer insight that really makes a difference?  If not, ask them for a referral to someone who will.  If they won’t, fire them and find someone else.  Do they provide you with self-management training that makes you more self-sufficient and effective at managing your diabetes?  If not, ask them for a referral to someone who will.  If they won’t… well, you get the picture.

Just a thought.  Before investing in another device, invest in yourself.  No matter what technology comes down the pipeline, it is still you, your brain, your wisdom, insight and experience, that manages you diabetes.  Build those and you build the mother of all products.

In case you’re interested, the American Association of Diabetes Educators (AADE) offers a “find a diabetes educator” service at its website:  http://www.diabeteseducator.org/DiabetesEducation/Find.html

The American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists (AACE) can help you to find an endo by location and specialty:  https://www.aace.com/resources/find-an-endocrinologist

The American Diabetes Association (ADA) provides a listing of “recognized” diabetes education programs by state at:  http://professional.diabetes.org/erp_list.aspx

And of course, for access to the finest one-on-one diabetes management coaching for intensive insulin users, it’s a good idea to reach out to CDE practices like mine, that focus intensely on patients’ real-life needs and offer services via web and phone so you don’t have to live nearby to take advantage.

Thank you, Gary. Message received: Patient education is key!


3 Responses

  1. Sarah
    Sarah December 6, 2012 at 1:44 pm | | Reply

    Can I just say that the AADE and AACE both have lousy search functions by geography? Moreover, what does it mean that my endo is not an AACE member – should I be worried?

  2. Aaron Capp
    Aaron Capp December 6, 2012 at 8:21 pm | | Reply

    Good post, it is very important that the people surrounding you dedicated to keeping you healthy do just that.

  3. Janice MacLeod
    Janice MacLeod December 17, 2012 at 7:28 am | | Reply

    Well said. Take blood sugar monitoring. If you are a person living with diabetes, do you know when to test, what the blood sugar readings should be or what to do if the reading is higher or lower than your target? If not you could be wasting your time and money (not to mention PAIN) by testing. If you are not sure work with a diabetes educator like Gary to learn when, why and how to test in order to get the most from your readings. Always test for a reason and act on the result.

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