Our friend David Edelman is a rock star in the Diabetes Online Community, having co-created Diabetes Daily, one of the top community sites that has grown to include a huge number of forums, blog posts, recipes and useful tidbits for people with diabetes.
(David does not have diabetes himself, but he experienced diagnosis with his wife in 2005, and has been devoted to the cause ever since.)
We were excited to hear the news in December 2013 that he had taken an official role with LabStyle Innovations, the Israel-based company behind the new all-inclusive, smartphone-plug-in glucose meter known as Dario. As we’ve reported, this combo device joins many others clamoring to hit the U.S. market, but this one may actually be coming soon — with LabStyle having submitted Dario for FDA review in December. Their hope is to get clearance by the end of this year!
Of course, product aside, we were interested in hearing what drew David to step out of his patient advocacy role to take an industry job? And what impact (if any) will this have on the Diabetes Daily network? Here’s what our Ohio-based friend says about all that…
A Guest Post by David Edelman
The question came up right after I had joined LabStyle Innovations, as Director of Product Strategy tasked with accelerating development of the first personalized smart meter called the Dario…
“Why did I leave ‘patient advocacy’ to join ‘industry’ in that role?
Short answer: I haven’t.
And rest assured, nothing changes for Diabetes Daily; I remain the founder and President/CEO.
I didn’t think of myself as leaving advocacy or joining industry. On the contrary: I saw a golden opportunity to bring both together to solve two major problems in diabetes care.
I’ve spent the last nine years exploring how to achieve Diabetes Daily’s mission of helping everyone with diabetes live a healthy, happy and hopeful life. After observing and participating in tens of thousands of conversations with people living with diabetes, I’ve come to the conclusion that you need two key things to succeed:
- Knowledge. Know why blood sugars change so you can predict and manage them in the future.
- Support. Have a strong support network, including loved ones and competent health care professionals, to sustain healthy behaviors over the long run.
Yet, when I look at the whole diabetes care system here in the USA and around the world, I see us failing to deliver in both of these areas. You can’t blame the health care professionals: they have limited time and limited resources to manage an extremely complex condition that requires constantly juggling food, activity, stress and medication. You can’t blame people with diabetes, either: managing blood sugars is a grueling marathon where cause and effect are hard to discern.
And then I met the folks creating Dario. It’s a smartphone-powered meter that plugs into the headphone jack of iOS and Android devices. It can easily track blood sugars, carbohydrates, insulin and activity levels. You can look up nutritional information before dosing insulin or get automatic notifications to check after meals. (For example, with our recent FatSecret integration, you have free and easy access to a localized database of hundreds of thousands of generic foods, branded products and restaurant menu items!) This certainly makes diabetes management easier.
But it was the vision of the company that sold me. This isn’t about making a sexy, all-in-one device — though Dario has a great piece of hardware — but about revolutionizing diabetes management. We don’t want to help people live with diabetes, but thrive with it.
Dario is all about connecting people with their support networks, sharing insights when needed most, and making sense of all of the data you collect, whether blood sugars, medications, activity levels, or physical locations, to help you easily make better decisions.
“Diabetes management tools shouldn’t just make your numbers look prettier, they should spot your patterns before you do and give you personalized tools and social support to make positive changes.”
— David Edelman, on where diabetes innovation needs to go
As a patient advocate, this sounded exactly like my vision for a better future!
This was a breath of fresh air. I’m sure so many of you feel like me: excited by the future of diabetes care but frustrated by the glacial pace of change. In a world full of innovation, where ubiquitous smartphones make almost everything easier, the diabetes management industry has being plodding along with incremental changes. Now here was a company fully committed to doing all the things that modern, mobile software does so well: collecting and analyzing data, sharing actionable information and connecting people.
Looking into the future, you can easily imagine where this can go.
Imagine that you’ve started training for your first 5K run and your smart meter notices that on workout days, you need less insulin. So at dinner on the third day, it points this out to you. To help, it also includes a video from one of the world’s top diabetes sports trainers explaining how he handles insulin dosing while running. You snuggle up in bed that night and send your fellow aspiring D-athletes a quick update and get a smiley face back. You enjoy sharing your successes and frustrations with your two new friends. Though you’ve never met, they were diagnosed at the same time as you and signed up to do the same training program.
Across town, a woman is in the midst of her fifth severe low blood sugar in two weeks. She doesn’t know it yet, but she’s pregnant. Dario alerts her and her medical team that her insulin needs have changed significantly over the past week and urges her to call her doctor to discuss appropriate changes to her treatment.
(In the United States today there is a major question about whether doctors will be compensated for providing more frequent, proactive support. But if we can prove that better and more proactive support improves health while reducing costs in the long run, we will get there.)
I helped create Diabetes Daily because I believe everyone with diabetes deserves to live a healthy, happy and joyful life. With my association with Dario, there’s an opportunity to build the hardware and software we need to make this vision a reality. And that’s why I’m bringing patient advocacy to the heart of industry.
Congrats David! And sure hope the product is as impactful as you imagine.