Getting together with 35 other people who have diabetes and write about it online is one of the best things about my work. I just returned home from a full day at the second annual Social Media Summit sponsored by Roche Diabetes Care. I still find myself invigorated by having spent hours in the company of so many passionate people.
Gretchen, Ginger, Kerri, and David
The combined passion for better diabetes care surfaced most intensely when our eight hosts from Roche brought in representatives from the American Diabetes Association and the American Association of Diabetes Educators to tell us what they were doing. If they had any idea of the number, range, and intensity of the comments that were going hit them, I wouldn’t have been surprised if they had declined to com.
On the other hand, we responded positively to our hosts, led by Lisa N. Huse, the director of strategic initiatives for Roche Diabetes Care. This company offers blood glucose meters, including the Accu-Chek Aviva, which I reviewed for Diabetes Health magazine, as well as insulin pumps. After welcoming us and giving each of us the chance to introduce ourselves Twitter-style in 140 words or fewer, Lisa briefly reviewed her company’s progress in the year since its first annual Social Media Summit, which I also took part in and reviewed here.
Last year Roche began in earnest to reach out to the diabetes community with that first meeting with those of us who write about diabetes. That effort was a good start, although of the 29 of us, only two of us represented the overwhelming number of people with diabetes who have type 2. I couldn’t count how many type 2s took part in this year’s event, although the number increased to include at least five or us. I was also pleased to note a much more representative number of people of color.
In the intervening year Roche started at least two major initiatives, which Lisa mentioned in her introductory remarks. The first is the Diabetes Care Project, which is a coalition of like-minded organizations focusing on improving the care of people with diabetes. Founded by the National Minority Quality Forum and Roche in partnership with the American Association of Diabetes Educators and Healthways Inc., the group’s website is the Diabetes Care Project.
The second big outreach to people with diabetes that Roche made between the two summits is the Genentech/Roche Diabetes Patient Member Research Community. This is a group of 300 people with type 2 diabetes is a private, by-invitation-only group representing Roche’s customer base. They provide the company with feedback about their concerns and what they want. By working with these people, Roche is able to learn about their customers’ lifestyles, mindsets, attitudes, fears, and passions.
In several ways the best part of this year’s event was Roche’s emphasis on the accuracy of blood glucose meters. The low standards of accuracy we have has long been my biggest concern with testing our blood glucose levels, one that I have written about many times. Recently, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has also become concerned, as I wrote here a year ago.
The “Accuracy Activity” led by leading blogger Amy Tenderich, who writes at Diabetes Mine, and Todd Siesky, the new public relations chief for Roche Diabetes Care, was both fun and informative. We broke up into small groups where we debated what standards of accuracy we wanted at the two given levels — below and above 75 mg/dl. The activity forcefully brought home to me that we had to work with trade-offs and that we couldn’t hope for perfect accuracy.
Last year we met at Roche’s American headquarters in Indianapolis, Indiana. This year we travelled to Orlando, where we met at the Orlando World Center Marriott in a tropical resort setting. Of course, summer weather in Central Florida is hot and humid, but we never had to leave the hotel except to take the limos that Roche laid on for us to and from the Orlando Airport, which must be one of the most beautiful in the world.
We met just after the American Diabetes Association’s annual meeting, also in Orlando, which I had decided to skip this year, mostly because I didn’t want to subject myself to Florida’s summer weather. But I couldn’t resist Roche’s invitation to its second annual Social Media Summit at the same place. Roche brought off the event without a hitch. Of course, I hope they choose a cooler location next year.
The Whole Group of Us Had Fun
This article is based on an earlier version of my article published by HealthCentral.