Digital health, Folgers coffee cans and bacon: A day in the Heartland

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06/11/2019

When last year’s Heartland Conference rolled around, I had just gotten my Freestyle Libre and was excited to take it on the road and see how much easier it was to check my blood sugar from the confines of a plane or during a session. Unfortunately, I knocked it off two days prior, courtesy of a doorframe that came at me out of nowhere (rookie mistake). Insurance policies being what they are, I had no way to replace before I took off, alas.

Fast forward to this year’s event and I can report that yes, living life in general and traveling in particular with Type 1 diabetes is So. Much. Easier. It’s a game changer.

And technology like that (and beyond) is coming ever faster. There’s a proliferation of devices aimed at managing chronic conditions, according to Jeff Cribbs, today’s keynote speaker during a dynamic session: “The Future of Digital Health is Centered in the Home.”

“We’ve gone from spot measurement to continuous event monitoring,” he said. “Real time signal processing.”

That, in turn, allows diabetics to make 200 decisions related to their diabetes daily, he said. 200! I’ve been busy counting carbs instead, but it sounds about right.

Libre aside, some things stay old school. I use syringes and toss them in a Folgers coffee can.

Bring home that bacon!

Speaking of Folgers coffee cans, Jennifer Leon is still trying to get you to collect those patient copays, 73% of which go past 30 days. Make it easier for them to pay. Set those expectations, now. Know that it’ll be harder with the existing patients but do it any how. They’ll try to tell you they don’t have a credit card, that they keep their cash in a Folgers can buried in the backyard.

Don’t fall for it.

As to your new patients?

“They don’t know you used to give away the equipment for free,” she said.

From the soapbox

As I move through sessions at this year’s conference, I am doing so with an eye on the future, the need to shake things up and the need to rethink business models, modes of thinking and just the same old, same old.

So, in that vein, I have two, oh so tiny, quibbles.

First minor quibble: Please stop labeling us diabetics. We are people who happen to have diabetes. I may make 200 decisions a day related to my diabetes, but I make a thousand more related to other stuff.

Second minor quibble: While I would never bite the hand that feeds me, literally or figuratively, it can be a challenge to eat at another’s table. Today, boxed lunches were served. I am fairly confident the boxes with the V on them were vegetarian. In the Midwest, I know, this is no small concession toward the non-meat eaters of America and it was nice to see. I’d like to see that go further, with a vegetarian option extended to the beloved hog roast. For the record, I am not a vegetarian myself, but even at the Heartland Conference's signature event, it’s time to set a place at the table for everyone.

(Jumps off soap box).

But please, don’t take away my bacon.