First: BIG thanks to Ascensia for reaching out and asking me blog about my experience at the American Diabetes Association’s, 78th Scientific Sessions in Orlando, Florida, aka #ADA2018.
Second: My name is Kelly Kunik, I'm from the United States, I’ve lived with t1 diabetes for a ridiculously long time — as in decades.
When I was first dx’d, the original Star Wars was on movie screens and diabetes glucose meters and diabetes technology were pure science fiction.
Instead of checking blood sugars, we checked urine (it was disgusting), there were only a few insulins out on the market and they were anything but smart.
We are now well on our way to leaving the “Diabetes Dark Ages” behind us, and although there is still work to do, diabetes tech and data are game changers.
Speaking of diabetes technology and data, my first day at ADA was spent in DiabetesMine’s day long DData Exchange event — discussing and learning about diabetes data and innovations, in all dimensions. It was amazing and overwhelming all rolled into one.
I spent the day in a room where a substantial number of people live with/love someone with diabetes (always a plus), or who have a passion for all things diabetes tech and data related.
And a good number of PWDs (people with diabetes) in the room were “Looping,” which was both surprising and at the same time anything but, considering all the people in the room were passionate diabetes innovators and diabetes early adopters.
When I first started blogging in 2007, I never imagined that blood sugars could be shared in real-time and with multiple people, that diabetes algorithms could be a thing, or that predictive blood sugars could be a possibility. And I never thought that the FDA would actually want or push for greater interchangeability with diabetes tech and data, more efficient regulatory pathways, and faster approval of diabetes innovations.
Diabetes tech has changed tremendously since the mid 90’s and at an even more rapid fire pace since 2011. Today, as in right this minute, diabetes tech has developed into a unique, crazy, interconnected diabetes ecosystem that benefits the end user — as in you, me, and every single person living the diabetes life.
A Diabetes Ecosystem created from diabetes tech and diabetes data
The day started with a heck of a lot of talk about diabetes tech and ddata in this diabetes ecosystem, and the how the FDA are helping to push through the tech, to make the diabetes ecosystem more vibrant.
And once the crazy diabetes tech filled ecosystem images left my head, it made a lot of sense.
Think about it: When the FDA approves dtech fast (which they are), our diabetes ecosystem becomes diverse and multilayered with tech partnerships — all of which benefit us (the people living with diabetes) and of course the companies that work together to cultivate said diabetes ecosystems. That’s a given, whether you pump, prefer MDI, use a CGM, rely heavily on meters, or use a combo of all of the above.
No matter your preferred diabetes tech combos, cross integration between pumps, CGMs, meters and diabetes data management companies that are working together seamlessly, allows us to share our ddata with our Endo’s (and our loved ones…Or not) and on our smart phones, watches, laptops and home computers. And if we feel we are getting ddata overload, we can always turn off any part of the ecosystem we want. That is an important point to keep in mind as this can all feel more than overwhelming.
That’s one crazy, awesome diabetes ecosystem.
We have to help EVERYONE living with diabetes
Doctor Anne Peters gave a passionate talk and shared heartbreaking stories of people with diabetes in underserved communities who were and continue to be, failed by the healthcare systems at the national, state and tech levels — and whose lives were and continue to be cut short because of it.
I was sitting at a table where every single person was living with diabetes — and we were in tears.
Dr. Peters challenged a room packed full of diabetes tech companies, healthcare professionals, industry, and people living with diabetes, to act as champions for all PWDs in underserved communities to improve access to dtech, and overcome the educational, financial, and language barriers that hold them back — their very lives depend on that access and our help. Check out Dr Peters’ Simple Language Guidelines for Insulin Pumps & Pens for underserved communities.
Every single one of us must remember that underserved people with diabetes can and will benefit from diabetes technology… as long as they have access - and that’s on us.
Dr. Peters received a standing ovation at the end of her talk — and she deserved it.
Diabetes tech and data makes it easier to embrace my inner chef without freaking out about carbs
Near the end of the day the winner of the Ascensia Diabetes Challenge was announced and it made my inner chef all sorts of happy.
First place went to Whisk’s AI-Powered Culinary Coach.
Said AI-Powered Culinary Coach will have the ability to provide users with food recommendations based on a person’s individual preferences. It will allow users to input recipes (either yours or recipes you have found online) and receive the nutritional data for those recipes, and they eventually hope to expand to restaurant and supermarket meals.
Whisk’s Culinary Coach crunches the nutritional data in recipes so we don't have to.
I AM STOKED!
In the future they want to build the ability to link these food choices to a person’s glucose data, which will create a more personalized d-algorithm that understands how your favorite recipes react to your body and your diabetes.
In my opinion, this isn’t just for people with type 2 diabetes, which is what the challenge was designed for, this is for anyone who likes to cook and or eat.
I like to cook because I like to eat and I like to create. I DO NOT LIKE TO CLEAN. Whisk’s AI-Culinary Coach cannot help in that department. BUMMER.
FTR, I didn’t write about Whisk winning the Ascensia Diabetes Challenge because Ascensia hired me to report from ADA. I wrote about it because when I heard what it was all about and what it has the potential to do for ME.
Also, I was impressed with the runners up Qstream and xbird - check them out!
Final Thoughts: My head was spinning by the end of the day — and in a great way.
I learned so much and I’m still processing it all.
Since Friday, images of my own “Diabetes Ecosystem” variations keep going through my head and in different dtech and ddata incarnations - depending on my mood, state of mind, and lack of sleep. But all of those images make me smile~