A bit belated, but still worth the read, we promise! Here's our coverage of the 2016 AADE (American Association of Diabetes Educators) annual meeting that took place in San Diego Aug. 12-15:
Maybe it was the non-stop sunshine… maybe it was the rollicking Hard Rock Hotel where I stayed… or maybe it was just the vibrant atmosphere and program created by 2016 AADE President Hope Warshaw. But this year’s annual meeting of the AADE (American Association of Diabetes Educators) had a great vibe, IMHO.
For me, the event started with a Thursday evening reception for past AADE presidents at the Marriott adjacent to the San Diego Convention Center. Hope Warshaw greeted the crowd in a sassy little flowered dress and high heels. She is clearly thrilled to take over the helm, and it's exciting for us patient advocates, as she's done more to embrace the patient community and social media sphere than any other HCP in diabetes leadership, I'd venture to say.
There was #DSMA Live twitter chat run in real-time on-site at the conference, featuring founders Cherise Schockley and Scott Johnson, along with CDEs Deborah Greenwood, Jane Dickinson and Rachel Head from AADE. We understand this was the first time ever the DSMA program was co-hosted at an event and actually included HCPs. Check out hashtag #AADE16 for reports on the broadcast (and lots of other conference action).
There were no less than 12 exhibitors this year under the moniker “Internet” -- including a Nightscout booth that was extremely well-visited. Go @NightscoutFound!
For the second year in a row, day two of the conference was officially "T1D Day" with five sessions featuring advocates and social media topics around Type 1 Diabetes.
And the #AADE16 smartphone app for iOS and Android was pretty amazing, with 11 different easy-to-navigate sections that even let users download and view slide presentations in real-time. The Social Media section tracked Twitter, Facebook and YouTube activity around #AADE16 right on the app.
I personally led a discussion panel on Saturday titled, "The Diabetes Technology Revolution: Utilizing Tools and Technology Data to Maximize their Use and Improve Patient Outcomes." We had leaders from Glooko, MySugr, Tidepool, One Drop and Diasend explain their offerings and how they help patients and CDEs succeed. Then a panel of three leading CDEs -- Gary Scheiner, Aimee Jose, and Toby Smithson -- talked about using these tech tools in clinical practice.
While it was frustrating to hear the barriers that exist around HCP access to these tools and inadequate time and compensation to use them, the encouraging part was how passionate the CDEs in the room were about making the best possible use of these tools with their patients. In other words, it didn't feel like we were convincing the crowd that tech tools matter, but rather brainstorming together about how we can make their use more mainstream.
My observations from the #AADE16 exhibit hall are a little bit scattered, but here goes:
Afrezza Prescription Push
Inhaled insulin Afrezza was in the house. As part of MannKind's efforts to "relaunch" this product after its rough start with Sanofi, the company was promoting its MannKind Cares program, that includes 30 days free supply for patients if their doctor submits a prescription and they have trouble getting insurance approval.
They tell me that prior authorizations usually take just 3 days, but "can get held up." In complicated cases, they're willing to fork out up to 90 days free supply until a patient's insurance kicks in.
“Patients shouldn’t get stuck in the battle of insurance companies and device companies” says Michael Castagna, the energetic new COO who took over a few months ago to engineer the company's turnaround.
To give potential new users a chance to try the drug, they'll also be launching a voucher program for a free one-month supply (180-count box) in September. We'll let you all know when that goes live.
Insulet's Promo Smarts
Insulet, makers of the Omnipod, get the award for cleverest promotions, in that they had the WiFi network on the show floor named after them (you clicked "OmniPod" to get online); they sponsored the lanyards for all the name badges, so their logo was around every attendees' neck; and they had a "Podcorn" setup in their booth, serving popcorn named after their popular tubeless insulin pump.
They also had a charitable "Pod Challenge" going -- donating $5 to AADE for each person who was willing to put on and wear a Pod sample, whether they had diabetes or not. By Sunday morning they already had 500 people walking around with mock-Pods.
They were featuring a clear pod kit (shown below), that offers newbies product information and a look at the "guts" of their system -- to show off its sophistication, or just for fun I guess. The kits were getting a lot of attention. They were also giving out glucose tabs in a cute little Pod-shaped container,
When I spoke with the Insulet execs, they told me they're focusing on their new app for kids, Toby's T1D Tale, to go along with their big push into the pediatric community versus the adult segment at the moment. Not that they've lost interest in adult users, but they've recently woken up to the fact that kids with T1D are the ideal market segment for the OmniPod and happen to love it.
Insulet execs say they've been forging partnerships with school nurse associations and diabetes camps around the country, and they've “gone big” at the Children with Diabetes Friends for Life conference. They've also created a babysitters’ resource guide that's now included in the JDRF Bag of Hope collection for newly diagnosed families.
Insulet is also keenly aware of the #DiabetesAccessMatters initiative to assure patient choice in healthcare coverage, and plans to publish information for its community of 85,000 existing Podders in early September.
Meet Abbott LibreView
While we're still waiting for the Abbott Libre Flash Glucose Monitoring system to hit the U.S., they've gone ahead and launched a new cloud-based D-data system called LibreView that anyone can start using immediately. Developed by a company called NewYu, it's compatible with numerous mainstream fingerstick meters including models from FreeStyle, One Touch, Accu-Chek and Bayer (now Ascensia Diabetes).
"We had desktop software before -- AutoAssist and CoPilot -- but nothing cloud-based," the spokes-folks tell us.
The system is free and you can have a look at this overview to see how the reports and charts are presented. You can even create a single report from multiple meters, and easily share data with your healthcare provider. Note that while you can add insulin dosing and exercise info, this system does not yet synch with or accept data from any insulin pumps.
Sweeteners, Snacks and Yogurt - Oh My!
The "diabetes-friendly" sweetener and food vendors were out en force on the expo floor. What caught my attention (and my stomach's) were the following:
Stevia & Monkfruit - this combination seems to be the new "in thing" for natural sweeteners. A company called Now Foods is using this in its little Slender Sticks individual flavor packets that you use in water bottles. I got a few samples and have to say they taste good.
Also, Whole Earth Sweetener Co. uses the same natural products to make a line of sweeteners, including Agave syrup, and gluten-free baking mix. Their zero-calorie sweetener products are coming to Starbucks soon, we're told.
Equal Coffee Creamers - Yup, the makers of Equal sweetener are introducing their own brand of flavored "Cafe Creamers" with just 10 calories and 0 carbs per serving! I'm pretty sure they're packed with chemicals, but I doubt that will stop me from indulging. So nice to add a little Caramel Macchiato or Mocha flavor to your Java with no extra carbs, no?
Daiya Foods - I was delighted to learn about this company and their extensive line of dariy-free, gluten-free and soy-free foods. Sounds terrible, I know, but they were offering samples of their pizza and bread on-site and the stuff was good. They even offer cheesy Mac-n-Cheese and cheesecake with no allergans that look incredibly yummy. The good news is they already sell nationwide in Safeway, Whole Foods Markets, Wegmans, Sprouts and other mainstream chains.
Dr. Pepper/Snapple Group – In addition to a variety of diet beverages, this company was showing off its line of "TEN" products that contain only 10 calories and up to 3 carbs, vs. zero in the diet stuff. Why choose Dr. Pepper TEN, I asked? They tell me these drinks are "a gateway to diet" for people who are hooked on the sugar versions and don't think they can go zero. Interesting idea. Anyway, I'm pretty addicted myself to Diet Dr. Pepper and Diet Snapple, so couldn't help blowing these folks kisses.
Best. Yogurt. Ever. - Yogurt lovers, have you found Siggi's yogurt yet?! It is the most amazing, thick Greek-style yogurt that comes in a variety of fruit flavors but contains -- get this -- about 15 grams of protein and 11 grams of carbohydrate or less per container! No artificial sweeteners. And it's really good. It's technically Icelandic-style yogurt, as it's made by the The Icelandic Milk and Skyr Corporation, that btw makes a big deal about making the yogurt cups recyclable.
The Danon Light & Fit Greek yogurt people were on hand at AADE too, passing out coupons that actually said Danon "invites you to enjoy great food choices while living with diabetes." That stuff isn't bad, and the carb and protein counts are similar, but it does contain sucralose and a long list of chemical ingredients compared to Siggi's five natural ones.
NuGo Bars - among other snack items, there was a booth giving out samples of gluten-free NuGo bars. Yum! These are also vegan and soy-free, and contain about 11 grams of protein in most varieties of the bar. They're not particularly low-carb at about 29g, but the "Stronger" variety actually makes up for that with a full 25g of protein per bar. This company is a real family success story -- but I would just say to the lady who was standing in front of the NuGo booth grumping at people: don't do that! It's a huge turn-off, as people were literally backing away from her.
As Seen at #AADE16...
There was a whole lot more to be seen on this year's AADE expo floor, including:
TempraMed Insulin Cooling Cap
Here's one that I was quite skeptical of since seeing an early prototype last year, but the new Vivi insulin cooling caps from TempraMed are actually become a real product going to market for real! The company basically came out of stealth mode at AADE with this booth:
The caps, which come in varieties for insulin pens and vials, are now registered with FDA as a Class I device -- i.e. a "replacement cap" that's perfectly safe to use. They're made of a proprietary heat-absorbing material that holds the insulin at a steady temperature, and the caps automatically recharge whenever they are in ambient temperature of less than 82.4°F (28°C). They seem like an excellent replacement for ice packs, or even something like Frio that needs to be submerged in water, with the only drawback being that they'll likely be significantly more expensive. We plan to report more details on the Vivi cap soon.
Ascensia's Bragging Rights
The former Bayer Diabetes Care company was exercising bragging rights that its Contour Next is the only BG meter connecting with the new Medtronic 630G. However, that interim system doesn’t even connect with Medtronic’s own Connect program, so it's hard to get too excited. (Also note that the Contour Next meter hasn't changed since the Bayer days, and the Medtronic link-up carries over too.)
Ascensia also went big on a “Powered by Accuracy” marketing campaign with data illustrating that Contour Next meters exceed the ISO 15197:2003 accuracy standard error margin of ±20% to deliver "close to lab-level accuracy at ±10%."
Interestingly, Ascensia has also been running a contest since April awarding 100 free test strips to 50 winners each month. This "sweepstakes" is open through the end of September. We always feel conflicted about giving away disease-care essentials as prizes, but I guess anything that improves is access is good...?
Pancreum Artificial Pancreas Boost
Remember this modular three-part Genesis Artificial Pancreas design, that's been in development for the past five years?
Well, they finally received the patents they've been seeking on their technology!
That, combined with the federal government's decision to allow crowdfunding for stock shares (not just cash), will give the company a much-needed boost for advancement, founder Gil de Paula told us at the AADE16 event.
"That's how Beta Bionics is doing it, as a so-called 'public benefit corporation.' You're allowed to raise up to a maximum of $1 million per year for shares. We hope this will give us the boost we need," de Paula said.
We sure hope to see this work move forward, as described:
"Pancreum is developing a low-cost semi-disposable diabetes management system (Genesis), which has the ability to function as a bionic pancreas. The Genesis system includes a reusable wearable core (CoreMD) onto which various disposable drug delivery modules and sensor modules may be attached. The system may function as an Artificial Pancreas when an insulin delivery module, a continuous glucose sensing module, and a glucagon delivery module are attached to the CoreMD. The system may then work together in unison to help manage and treat diabetes"
Trividia Remakes True2Go
It sounds like a high-end digital graphics firm, but Trividia is the new name for the former Nipro Diagnostics, makers of the former True2Go and TrueResult glucose meters, that are actually being phased out and replaced with new models, as of June 1.
Expect to see the TrueMetrix, TrueMetrixGo and TrueMetrix Air models on drugstore shelves soon, complete with new, smaller test strips -- both of which are manufactured at the company's headquarters in Fort Lauderdale, FL, we're told. (If you're an existing customer in need of an upgrade, you can call the company's customer center at 1-800-803-6025).
Also, new TrueManager software will finally allow users of these super-portable mini meters to download their data. Trividia says it has four meters in its platform, plus an economy a ReliOn version for just $10 but with lower quality.
Classes & TOPS
On the education and coaching front, we were happy to see that dLife is launching a new series of classes at Walmart stores, kicking off with a pilot in Arkansas, North Carolina, Indiana and Florida in December. This is a series of seven weekly 1.5-hour sessions taught by a CDE, that are free to patients and include free A1C testing, blood pressure checks and eve screening. Seems like an excellent way to reach PWDs where they live!
We also learned about a program called TOPS (Take Off Pounds Sensibly) that helps with weight loss, that has over 150,000 members nationwide. This Milwaukee-based organization is a little like Weight Watchers in that it consists of local group chapter meetings, some of them hosted by employers. They've actually been around since 1948 (!), but it seems lately they've been focusing more on the diabetes community. You can read more about the diet and community support component here.
Skin Tac Has Tac Away!
Who knew?! Personally, I use the ultra-sticky Skin Tac adhesive barrier wipes to keep my Dexcom CGM sensor in place, and the only thing I hate about them is how tough it is to get the sticky stuff off where you don't want it. Turns out the Rhode Island-based manufacturer Torbot Group recently released the antidote: Tac Away adhesive remover wipes! YAY!! I got samples at AADE and will be ordering soon. Best pricing seems to be Amazon offers with free shipping, btw.
Sugar Medical's Ingenuity
Sugar Medical, makers of a wonderfully colorful variety of diabetes carry cases, has come up with a truly ingenious solution for used test strips -- a need I've been bemoaning for the longest time!
At least in their new "universal" design, they've added a little "trap door" slot where you insert used strips into a plastic-lined pouch that can be opened via Velcro strip from the outside of the case. It keeps the used strips safe and secure till you're ready to dispose of them. Briliant!
StickyJewelry + Oneida
And last not least, the StickyJewelry/Oneida folks somehow managed to corner the market on fashionable medical ID jewelry at AADE this year. I bought two of their newest bracelets -- one with sparkly beads and one with a simple infinity loop. And when I started to complain about how hard it can be to manage the clasps on these bracelets by yourself, they had a solution! They promised to send me a tool called Bracelet Buddy, which I'm quite excited about trying.
Because, you know... what patients often need most is help with the practical bits of living with diabetes... the small everyday things that drive us crazy, or alternately, improve our QOL.
I feel this vibe of Focusing on the Real came alive at #AADE16 this year, and I thank Hope Warshaw and the rest of her team for that!