On Nov. 21, a select group of diabetes patient advocates, entrepreneurs, health care practitioners, device designers, pharmaceutical companies and industry experts met for the fourth annual DiabetesMine Innovation Summit. In the words of the event organizers, the Summit “represents a tremendous opportunity to ‘connect the dots’ between patients, industry, entrepreneurs, designers, and physicians with one goal in mind: changing the diabetes world for the better through innovative technology.”
The American Diabetes Association was there! Matt Petersen from our Scientific and Medical Division shares his thoughts in today’s blog.
The morning sessions took a look at where we stand with the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, which has greatly improved health care access for people with and at risk for diabetes, plus how people are—or aren’t—using apps and other personal technology to help manage diabetes. We heard from a panel of patients about the need to keep patient needs at the center of medical care in general and innovation in particular.
Last year’s Summit had some moments that generated quite a bit of “heat,” particularly regarding the idea that large insurers may not be as sensitive to patient needs as they could be. This year’s Summit provided a good venue for stakeholders of every type to share their views, with a little less heat and a fair amount of light.
There was an interesting update from Tidepool CEO Howard Look about his device-agnostic platform—meaning it is compatible with most operating systems and devices. One of the biggest challenges for years has been the lack of interoperability of different devices and their software, and it looks like Tidepool is gaining some traction. Some major players have agreed to open up their application programming interfaces to start “playing nice with others.” Joseph Cafazzo of the Centre for eHealth Innovation expanded on that discussion to look at some of the reasons why common and open standards are necessary and why there is resistance to adopting them. Again, things look promising and I think we’ll start to see improved interoperability. What if all your diabetes devices could finally “talk” to each other and share information!
More presentations and panel discussions illuminated the fact that “innovation” is a broad concept. It means not just a new device with new features, but many other pathways to improved health care, such as how clinical research is conducted efficiently and how care is accessed. An afternoon panel led by Cynthia Rice from JDRF explored how we are going to incentivize the development of new therapies and ensure access to those therapies when they’re available. We heard from payers, regulators and patients alike, and the discussion brought back a bit of the “heat” from the previous year’s meeting. But in general the discussion showed the tremendous common interest of all of the stakeholders in the room in facilitating innovation of every stripe.
The biggest plaudits of the day were reserved for Stayce Beck of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), for the role she has played (along with many others) in opening up the FDA process for reviewing and approving diabetes devices to patients and other “outsiders.” Most people agree the FDA’s resources are more limited than they should be to cover the vast array of products they are responsible for, and for years there was frustration that it was hard to get a view inside that process.
But the times are changing. Just a few weeks before the Summit the team at diaTribe hosted a live webinar with the FDA, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) staff and other patient advocates to explain some of the processes for drug and device review and approval, and review how the voices of patients can play a role. Stayce’s presentation at the Summit further explored how the FDA’s diagnostic devices branch prioritizes its mission, very much including the needs of people with diabetes, and debunked some of the misconceptions about how the branch operates (despite what many people think, the FDA does not enforce HIPAA!).
I can’t end a discussion of the Summit without mentioning the venue. What a great arrangement the DiabetesMine team has made to have the meeting on the Stanford University campus. The meeting room and facilities are first-rate, and the foyer is a perfect place to mingle during breaks and the reception to get some first-hand information about innovations that are in the works. And though the weather was a bit gray this year, Palo Alto, Calif., is one of the most genial college towns I’ve ever seen.
I’m looking forward to next year!
Managing Director, Medical Information
American Diabetes Association