I get a tremendous amount of joy in appearing at JDRF TypeOneNation summits. They are the perfect blend of information and empathy for diabetes veterans and newly diagnosed families. This summer, I also had the opportunity to represent Tidepool at American Diabetes Association’s Scientific Sessions (ADA), Children with Diabetes Friends for Life (FFL), and the American Association of Diabetes Educators Annual Meeting (AADE).
Each of these meetings provides me (and the rest of the Tidepool team) an opportunity to speak directly with the different types of people we see using Tidepool every day. From people with diabetes and their families, to endocrinologists, nurses, nutritionists, and diabetes educators, to academic researchers and key industry folks. Now that the summer is winding down, I want to report back on how everything went.
ADA Scientific Sessions
The primary audience for our efforts at ADA in June were composed of researchers, practicing clinicians, and important industry personnel. For me, this was a bit of a homecoming as I used to work at the American Diabetes Association’s Home Office and would be part of the ADA staff working at the conference. I had a basic idea of how many people would be at the meeting, and how each day would progress as the conference unfolded. What I didn’t fully anticipate was the enthusiasm we would receive in the one-on-one conversations that took place. Most of my interactions as Community Manager are with people with diabetes, and clinicians interested in learning more about Tidepool. Scientific Sessions, however, offered a new layer of interactions to appreciate.
The people attending this conference think about diabetes and data on a level I could only dream to fathom. This isn’t to say I don’t come prepared to engage, but I’m humble enough to know when I’m out of my element when it comes to questions about the potential machine learning tasks and multi-faceted clinical studies. These are the opportunities where I can learn the most from interacting with the community. Knowing that Tidepool can support clinical studies and big data analysis is one thing, but getting into the highly technical realm of what’s possible is another.
Quality research takes time, but seeing these studies progress from a conversation to an idea to a proposal to a pilot study and beyond is exhilarating.
Oh, there was also the matter of us starting our public beta for Medtronic 630G, 640G, and 670G support. You haven’t lived until you’ve asked a total stranger if they’d like to participate in a beta test for an update to free, open source software, but the enthusiasm we saw from each beta tester was incredible.
Children with Diabetes Friends for Life
July brought on Children with Diabetes Annual Friends for Life conference. As some of you may recall, this was not Tidepool’s first time exhibiting with Children With Diabetes. (link) This year’s appearance had a more tactical approach: first, we needed to finish our in-person beta for Medtronic 600-series devices. Second, our lead QA engineer, Eric needed a healthy dose of diabetes community camaraderie.
At our last team retreat, Eric,who like me is also living with type 1 diabetes, told me he was feeling disconnected from the diabetes community and wanted to know if he could join an upcoming appearance. Before we knew we would be beta testing our Medtronic 600-series update, I knew Friends for Life was the perfect opportunity for him to reconnect. It’s difficult to describe the smile I saw on Eric’s face when he realized that “diabetes is cool here.” Yes, yes it is.
Our goal for the in-person Medtronic beta was to get 20 successful uploads between ADA and FFL. Going into July’s conference, we still needed 13 successful uploads. While we cut it close, down to the last half hour of the exhibit hall being open, we were able to meet our target and get one step closer to announcing full Tidepool support for Medtronic 630G, 640G, and 670G.
In August, we announced that Tidepool fully supports Medtronic 630G, 640G, and 670G. This was made possible, in part, by the enthusiasm of the diabetes community coming to participate in our beta. If you were following us on Instagram at the time, you might have witnessed some celebrations once we got to that magical number of 20 successful uploads without issues.
Last on our summer tour was AADE, consisting of three straight days of talking with people on the front lines of health care: diabetes educators. Hearing the stories of people who do so much for their patients restored some of my faith in a system that can be so cruel to people living with a chronic condition like diabetes. Walking these clinicians through our software and seeing their reactions when they learned that data from all the devices supported by Tidepool could be viewed in a single place, for free, is a priceless moment. Connecting with clinicians who have found tremendous success, and giving them a high five for stopping by our booth, kept a smile on my face throughout our time in the AADE Exhibit Hall. And getting to say “yes, we support Medtronic 670G” for the first time to clinicians was especially rewarding given how hard the Tidepool team has worked to deliver this new feature to the diabetes community.
Even after all the TSA pat downs, delayed flights, and the primetime humidity of Orlando in the summer, I’m happy to report our summer conference tour was a resounding success. The Tidepool team will continue to deliver new features and updates to the diabetes community. I look forward to sharing all of that progress with you as we go.
Did you get a chance to attend any of these conferences? I’d love to hear about your experience in the comments!