David Weingard, a 48-year-old type 1 PWD from New York, is known in the D-community as the founder and CEO of Fit4D, a popular organization that brings together PWDs with CDEs, nutritionists and fitness coaches to help patients live healthier with diabetes. Fit4D uses virtual coaching, phone calls and videos to bring education to patients where they need it, so David knows a thing or two about diabetes and technology! David is also an avid athlete — having just finished yet another Ironman event — so he's also interested in how diabetes technology helps PWDs live limitless lives.
David is also one of our 10 winners of the Patient Voices Contest to attend this year's DiabetesMine Innovation Summit. In this 4th in our series of winner interviews, we chatted with him about how diabetes devices affect athletic performance and what he hopes to see change for the better.
DM) David, we like to start by hearing each PWD's diagnosis story...
DW) I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at the age of 36, while training for a survival race. I'm a veteran of numerous running and triathlon races (including the Ironman triathlon), so I was immediately committed to rebuilding my life and providing positive energy to the diabetes community while coping with the condition on a 24x7 basis.
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I didn't know anything about diabetes. I didn't know if I was going to live or what to do. The doctor and nurse were really understanding and met with me daily to help me get comfortable with injecting and the new routine. Mentally, I recommitted to living a full life and being alive to enjoy my three boys growing up. I had been training for an eight-stage survival race, so in theory, I was in good shape but had lost all my energy due to diabetes. So every day, I would run at least 20 minutes, telling myself that I was getting stronger every day. Three months later, I completed my fastest NYC Marathon race.
How did you get started in patient advocacy?
When I was diagnosed with diabetes, I looked for resources to help me. While there was lots of information on-line, I found that it was very basic and didn't explain to me how to live my own life with the disease. I also wanted to find a way to help the diabetes community in a BIG way, so I began racing triathlons including the Ironman distances to raise awareness and money for the charities. What happened after that was incredible... People starting emailing and calling me for advice. I realized that the best way to give back was to leverage my professional background to build an organization where health educators could connect across the country with people in need and help them live rich and fulfilling lives.
So that was the beginning of Fit4D?
Yes. Fit4D delivers patient programs designed to increase adherence to therapy, support the emotional aspects of making lifestyle changes and improve health outcomes. We developed the Fit4D Pathways, which are an optimized mix of human and electronic touchpoints to continually engage and support patients through their personal journey of life with diabetes.
Our 30+ coaches are phenomenal and passionate diabetes educators who continue to help people and build up their confidence, give them support and empower them in their lives.
This is a big question. At a high level, they should:
A. Be waterproof (weather and sweat)
B. Not fall out during exercise (e.g. sensors)
C. Be of smaller weight (no one likes wearing a big insulin pump while running)
D. Not need continual calibration (i.e. CGMs)
E. Be integrated (all the devices talking to each other)
F. Allow wireless upload into workout programs, like Nike and training peaks
G. Include a personal diabetes coach with the device who helps each of us understand all the data and makes our next workout better
What inspired you to focus on the notion of "developer conferences" for diabetes in your winning video?
I saw it as an opportunity to contribute to the advancement of diabetes care. I very much appreciate DiabetesMine's efforts and industry leadership in creating this event and pulling together PWDs and manufacturers.
What would you most like to see the DiabetesMine Innovation Summit achieve?
I would like to see concrete changes and improvements in product strategies reflecting the feedback of PWDs. It would make the event more meaningful if the manufacturers would report back on the changes/improvements they made due to the Summit.
How do you think the Summit might affect your work with Fit4D?
It is incredibly rewarding for us when patients share with us their personal journey of navigating diabetes every day. Patients and coaches develop trusted relationships through which we can support the many emotional moments of living with diabetes. I look forward to being able to better understand the strategic direction of the diabetes landscape and continue to integrate the innovate ideas/technologies into Fit4D's patient care, to make life better for myself and everyone in this community.