Roche Diabetes Social Media Summit
I am sitting at Gate 10 in Terminal A at Orlando International Airport. I have just finished participating in the Roche Diabetes Social Media Summit, which is perhaps my favorite 24 hour period of the year. It’s like Christmas, Thanksgiving and a family reunion with people you actually like all combined into one. But honestly, I think it might even be better than that.
I have spent almost 10 years of my life participating in some form or another of the online diabetes community, and in a way, I really do consider my diabetes family to be a real true family. My experiences in the community started at a fairly young age, and I consider myself to be partially raised in the diabetes community. I know that bringing me together with my family once a year is not why Roche created the Summit, but it is perhaps the best unintended consequence they could have imagined.
Roche began with their presentation on what they accomplished this year, which included, amazingly enough, a new commercial for one of their meters that included real blood sugar readings of 192 mg/dl and 273 mg/dl from the real people with diabetes in the commercial. No actors! Score!
But overall, this year was different that last year. There was less emphasis on Roche, for one. We had two guest organizations come in, the American Diabetes Association and the American Association of Diabetes Educators. The time we spent with them was nearly half the organized discussion portion of the entire day.The American Diabetes Association has long been victims of the wrath from people with type 1 diabetes. The ADA is seen as being many things including, but not limited to: “a professional organization,” “an organization focused on people with type 2,” “an organization that doesn’t spend enough money on research,” and “a fiscally irresponsible organization.” The ADA seemingly took our criticisms in stride, and like all good public relations (and I should know, this is what I do), they admitted where they faulted and continually replied that they appreciated our feedback and were working on improving what we were saying. No shutting us down or dismissing our thoughts. My only concern that came out our discussion with some of their practices, such as not emphasizing the needs of the adults with type 1, is that there didn’t seem to be much placed on timing.
The American Association of Diabetes Educators should have been a good segment, but it wasn’t. As you will no doubt hear from others who will blog about this event, the AADE portion was not what any of us imagined. We as people with diabetes and as bloggers are acutely aware of the devastating state of diabetes education in this country, with a shortage of CDEs and endos throughout the country. Unfortunately, the AADE is not responsible for certifying CDEs and thus our pleas for assistance in making becoming CDEs more feasible for those pursuing a second career fell of deaf ears. Even requests for petitioning assistance to the Board that does certify fell on deaf ears. Whether this was resistance to the ideas or resistance to the fact that it was bloggers who were so passionately requesting such an action, perhaps we’ll never know. But soon after, it became clear the AADE did not appreciate the expectations we had for the organization and the discussion quickly fell a part. It was disappointing to say the least, but a lesson I learned is that it is important to understand your opponent. The AADE should have understood where we might be coming from (and also who we are in general) and we should have been more well-read on who the AADE is and what they do prior to the event.
At the end of the evening, before dinner, we had our annual photoshoot. This year, we had ten more bloggers than last year, including 3 additional people with type 2 diabetes. It was exciting to have even more folks, but I know that as always, it is not perfect as many, many people who wanted to be there could not. You were all missed, but I think very well represented by the passionate and eloquent folks who did attend. I look forward to seeing how things continue to improve moving forward with the input from some of the brightest minds in the industry – us!