Full disclosure: Medtronic paid for my travel, hotel, and meals so I could attend this event. All thoughts, on all media, are my own and are never for sale.
I was fortunate enough to attend the latest Medtronic Diabetes Advocate Forum last week in Los Angeles, California. To be honest, it was pretty short on advocacy and long on Medtronic.
But I look at it this way: first, we did come up with a couple of good advocacy ideas (and by we, I mean someone other than me). I don’t want to steal anyone’s thunder, so I won’t reveal anything yet. But watch this space for more later. Second, if I was told ahead of time that I would get a chance to interact directly with top leaders at Medtronic Diabetes, I would have said yes anyway.
So, while it wasn’t exactlly what I expected, it was definitely worth the trip.
What did I learn? I learned that Medtronic Diabetes went through a change about a year and a half back. They have some newer people and newer roles, and they are now looking at what they do through a different lens. That includes a new mission statement:
Transforming Diabetes Care Together
for Greater Freedom and Better Health
Every presentation from every person we talked to revolved around the tenets of the mission statement. Here are some of the things I heard:
From Louis Dias, Chief Patient Officer: “In order to transform patient lives, it’s important to keep patient stories in mind so we can transform ourselves.”
From Alejandro Galindo, President, Intensive Insulin Management: “No two diabetes journeys are the same, but they could all be a little better.”
From Annette Bruls, President, Diabetes Service and Solutions: “Medtronic’s next generation solutions seek to answer the questions How have I been doing? How will I be doing? What should I be doing?”
From Hiten Chawla, Senior Director of Marketing, Non Intensive Diabetes Therapies: “We’re working on solutions to improve disease understanding, management, and outcomes for Type 2s and those with pre-diabetes.”
From Hooman Hakami, Executive Vice President and President, Medtronic Diabetes: “We plan to add 19 million more patients by 2020.” (side note: I was assured later that this does not mean 19 million more pumpers, but rather 19 million more patients’ lives improved through Medtronic efforts in the next four years)
There was a lot more, including a panel discussion over lunch that included everyone mentioned above, plus Dr. Francine Kaufman.
Throughout the day, I was impressed by all of the attendees, including the ones from outside the USA. I was encouraged that at the times they needed to, people were able to speak in their own languages and be heard and communicated with in their own languages. It wasn’t always loving. There were some difficult questions, but never a dull moment.
There were a few questions I wish I’d have asked. I’ve gone back and asked them since. How much is Medtronic paying IBM to use Watson’s supercomputing power to crunch data? And what kind of data is being crunched? Is it just data uploaded to CareLink? Is it all data uploaded to CareLink, for all pump and CGM configurations, or just some? I’ll let you know what the answers are.
You can probably tell from the statements above that everyone there is drinking the Kool Aid. Which is good, if you want to actually accomplish the goals you set for your company. I’m also jaded enough to know that it’s really rare that everyone is on board with the mission. And I know that regardless of how the mission looks today, changes will be made over the next few years. That’s the way it goes in business. To stay relevant, you adapt. Anyway, I like what I’m hearing so far.
I must give special thank yous to Amanda Sheldon, Senior Director of Global Content Strategy; Karrie Hawbaker, Senior Manager, Social Media; and Naomi Ruperto, Social Media Community Manager. They went out of their way and then some to make attendees feel welcome, answer questions, and take on a couple of tough issues of their own.
So while it wasn’t all-advocacy-all-the-time, the Medtronic Diabetes Advocate Forum packed a lot of information into a short time frame. Let’s watch together to see how they deliver on the message of transforming diabetes care together for greater freedom and better health. If they pull it off, we’ll all be better for it.