Today we're happy and proud here at DiabetesMine. By all accounts, the DiabetesMine Design Challenge we've hosted here for the past three years has been a roaring success. We inspired creative thinkers from all over the country and all over the world to design and showcase more than 300 innovative concepts. We helped place some of these talented young thinkers in key positions in the industry. And we managed — on a patient blog and a shoestring budget — to launch a national campaign to shake up the world of medical device design in the name of improving life with diabetes.

And today it is clear that our efforts have achieved their highest goals: we've inspired the industry to take up the cause and begin working more closely with the patient community.

We asked industry to LISTEN to patients, to INVOLVE them in the design process, from conceptualization to realization. We said: why not ASK patients what's most important to them in the design of products they live by?

Have a look, for example, at the crowdsourcing challenge that Sanofi Aventis is running this year. It shadows the DiabetesMine Design Challenge efforts very closely, although the focus is on "care delivery" moreso than individual products.

We're delighted to see that pharma companies, device manufacturers, and national institutions have been listening!

We encourage everyone to participate in Sanofi's challenge, where patients are queried about their most pressing needs ("I see the biggest challenge in diabetes as ________") and there is $200,000 in prize money at stake ($100K for the grand prize winner alone). JDRF has also announced a $100,000 challenge — to find new diabetes drugs. They're using the popular InnoCentive platform, which we understand other organizations are looking at to run diabetes-related challenges in the coming year. Even Harvard got into the game with a diabetes crowdsourcing competition last Fall.

In the last few years, "innovation incubator" programs like Rock Health and BluePrint Health have begun fostering many new diabetes interventions.

Here at the 'Mine, it's time to turn our attention to the next step in our playbook for improving quality of life for people with diabetes via technology and design. We think the next big challenge will be fostering collaboration among commercial stakeholders. This effort won't be led by any single pharma company, as they struggle to be "open" while keeping their distance from competitors. We want to make a contribution to tearing down the walls and helping facilitate conversations and cooperations.

Here at the 'Mine, we're off to a good start. Last September, the DiabetesMine Innovation Summit event we hosted at Stanford University brought together empowered patient advocates (thank you, Bernard Farrell, Wil Dubois, Gary Scheiner and others!) with pharma R&D and marketing executives, human interaction designers, students, entrepreneurs, physicians, regulatory experts, investors, health gaming developers, technology gurus and experts in mobile health platforms.

One thing was clear: these groups need and want more cross-pollenization.

As Lane Desborough wrote on Medtronic's diabetes blog, the Loop:

"In my short time in the world of diabetes, this was probably the most valuable single day I've spent so far. The most valuable part for me was ... the discussions during coffee breaks and lunch. I got to meet fantastic people, all aligned in their passion and determination and ability to make living with diabetes easier."

Our 2012 DiabetesMine Innovation Summit will feature an even stronger patient voice, presenting specific challenges to panels of industry / regulatory / design experts. Details are in the works.

We'll soon invite the diabetes community to apply for one of 10 "e-patient scholarships," complementary tickets to join us in Palo Alto, CA, to add your voice of advocacy to the mix. If you're interested in applying, start jotting down some notes on how you would articulate what people with diabetes need most. (We'll be asking for video testimonials to select recipients.) Keep your eyes peeled for more on that program from us.

Meanwhile, we encourage everyone to follow Sanofi's challenge and participate in related crowdsourcing efforts. Note that Feb. 12, 2012, is the last day to submit your input to Sanofi if you'd like to have a say in the patient challenges that program will tackle.

Clearly, the challenge of making "patient-centered design" more than just a buzzword remains pertinent. This is evidenced everywhere — from a lack of patient-friendly packaging for insulin and for emergency glucose tablets to gadgets with features that are too complex, forcing patients to dig for their user manuals.

We encourage everyone in the diabetes community and beyond to look towards new frontiers in diabetes design.

Disclaimer: Content created by the Diabetes Mine team. For more details click here.


This content is created for Diabetes Mine, a consumer health blog focused on the diabetes community. The content is not medically reviewed and doesn't adhere to Healthline's editorial guidelines. For more information about Healthline's partnership with Diabetes Mine, please click here.