Review of Roche Social Media Summit number 2, June 29, 2010

In case you were wondering what actually happened on the business end of the Roche Social Media Summit, here’s the rundown and my take on the whole sche-bang.

First of all, Roche Diagnostics is a pharmaceutical company based out of Indianapolis, IN and the makers of the Accu-Chek brand of diabetes supplies. They invited a group of prominent online voices to Orlando, Florida on June 29th for a follow up discussion of the same event held last year in Indianapolis. This year they invited representatives from the American Diabetes Association and the American Association of Diabetes Educators to engage in conversation with us.

What Roche Did since the 2009 Summit

Roche took a lot away from the 2009 summit. The two that stood out to me were this:

1. They used real diabetics and real blood sugar readings for their latest commercials. Check it out:
2.The Diabetes Care Project. Diabetes Care Project was created to “provide an emphasis on health outcomes” through National Action, Understanding the Patient, connecting to community, and managing costs. I think this is a huge step and shows that Roche is invested in the health of their patients and not just their own bottom line. I hope other big pharma companies follow.

I was disappointed that Roche did not communicate with us as much as I would have liked on either the things they have been doing or what they could do in the future. We didn’t say, “Oh, that is good” or “you could improve here” or “here is an idea I’ve had since last year”or “here is an idea, I wasn’t here last year.” I was kind of disappointed about this since it was my first year there and I would have liked some communication with Roche. It felt like it was kind of pointless for Roche.

The one thing they did do that was an example of open communication with us was a hosted discussion on meter accuracy. First we did a group discussion where we decided how accurate a meter could be on each end. Our choices were between accurate within mg/dL on the low end and percentage on the high end. Here were our choices. Keep in mind the left number is low numbers within mg/dL and the second number is within that percentage for high numbers.


I’m not sure what good 15/15 was because if you can get 15/10 why would you pick 15/15? Of course we all wanted 0/0 but we understood that at this time 0/0 is simply not realistic. Our group debated for a while and what I determined was it is up to the specific person with diabetes which would be better for them. Sara Knicks argued in my group for the low side – she says when she’s high, she watches closely and usually can avoid going into a crash, but she wants to know when she’s low exactly how low she is.

Kelly Kunik was all for more accuracy on the high end. Kelly has a unique story and has seen firsthand the devastation of diabetes on her family. Kelly wants high blood sugar monitoring to be tight to have the best chance at preventing complications from the long term effects of high blood sugar.

For me, I leaned toward Kelly’s decision only because of how I treat my highs and lows. Having inaccuracy at a 400 means I can easily overdose insulin if my meter says 420 and I am actually 380. These numbers are easily within the current 20% accuracy standard. When I am low I eat 5-15 grams of carbs no matter how low I am and keep testing every 20 minutes to be sure I come back up. Overtreating a low has less devastating effects than overtreating a high as far as my diabetes care goes.

YDMV. Your diabetes may vary. People who do not take insulin may want better accuracy on the low end, for example. I think it would be nice to have different meters available with different accuracy along the choices above, then the user could have the meter that was most accurate for their personal diabetes needs. I’m not sure this is possible, though.

The ADA and AADE sessions were productive in my opinion. Scott Strumello moderated the conversation and brought some general concerns of the DOC and to the table and I thought he did a fantastic job. The ADA listened and wrote down everything we said. One of the representatives posted a great review on what the ADA took from the session at DiabetesMine.

The AADE session was another story. The women they sent were defensive and, I think, did not understand what was happening at the summit. We also were confused as to the responsibilities of their group. However, the consensus I came to personally was that the AADE should be more connected to what the person with diabetes needs from the diabetes educator, while right now their group is not very patient focused and is more focused on existing as a business entity. As a future diabetes educator, if their group remains how it is today I can see no reason to spend the money to join.

The best part was, of course, the fellowship. “Fellowship” sounds like a religious term but I kind of felt like meeting with these people I have been talking to on the internet for a year was a religious experience. I now know for sure that the people I have come to love and respect are truly some of the smartest, most amazing, most caring, and most bold people in the world. Thanks for the fantastic experience, both to Roche and my DOC family.

1 thought on “Review of Roche Social Media Summit number 2, June 29, 2010

  1. Bennet

    I have a feeling Roche may have gotten a lot out of listening. I respect that approach. They didn’t come with an agenda. Last year they listened about real numbers in ads and as you point out took it to heart.

    I think meter technology is fairly static. Improvement needs to happen continually. The bar has remained at the same level for too long.


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