A World Gone Completely Mad
There are days when Diabetic Investor thanks our lucky stars for the turmoil going in the blood glucose monitoring market. Earlier in the week we learned of major management changes at Bayer, plus the confirmation that more layoffs are coming. Sources tell Diabetic Investor that LifeScan has instituted a hiring freeze and that major changes are coming. And just to keep things really interesting the rumor mill is abuzz that Abbott (NYSE:ABT) is finally getting ready to pull the trigger and sell their diabetes device unit. About the only company not making news is Roche, more than likely because management is still trying to decide what color the toilet paper should be in the executive restrooms. Perhaps one day they’ll get too fixing what’s wrong with their device unit but first things first.
Given this state of turmoil and dismal market conditions Diabetic Investor senses an opportunity here for any company willing to think way out of the box. As Ralph Waldo Emerson once wrote; “In our flowing affairs a decision must be made—the best, if you can, but any is better than none. There are twenty ways of going to a point, and one is the shortest; but set out at once on one. A man who has the presence of mind which can bring to him on the instant all he knows, is worth for action a dozen men who know as much but can only bring it to light slowly.” Or put in terms BGM companies should understand better to take action than sit around pondering what action to take.
Considering that major BGM companies – LifeScan, Roche, Abbott and Bayer – are running in circles unable or unwilling to act, this just might be the time for a newcomer to step in, do something dynamic allowing them to take control of the market and leave the Big Four wondering just what the heck happened. By taking decisive action now, when the market is ripe for change, it could be too late for the Big Four to respond as they will still likely be deciding what to do next.
Never being shy to offer suggestions Diabetic Investor believes there are strategies that can change market dynamics and turn market share numbers upside down. Although there are some who believe Diabetic Investor is dumber than a box of rocks, we have not fallen totally off the deep and do not see anyone expanding the market or turning non-testers into frequent testers. That being said, there are still plenty of insulin using patients who do test and test regularly who are ripe for the taking if someone is prepared to become their partner in diabetes management.
Forget about meters that come in pretty colors or do everything expect wash the dishes, as the old saying goes give patients one big KISS- Keep it short and simple. Since all meters do basically the same thing, the same way, why not provide testers with tools that really matter and help them effectively manage their diabetes. What tools? How about discounts on test strips for loyal customers. Or what about cutting out the middle man and let users order test strips directly, or better yet tell the meter to automatically order strips. Given the wide variety of apps and software packages already on the market, it’s not a major investment to add such a feature.
This is not really that much different than what Liberty Medical has done all these years the major difference is instead of billing the government, the company could bill the patient’s insurer, use the patient’s credit card to cover the co-pay and ship the strips through the mail. As far as we know there is no law or rule that says a patient must refill their strips from a pharmacy. Even if there was, an imaginative company could easily acquire one, which is exactly what Liberty did when they expanded from testing supplies into providing prescription drugs.
Since we’re thinking way out of the box, why not also provide customers with access to certified diabetes educators on their terms and not try and force it down their throats. In the real world, somewhere where the Big Four doesn’t always live in, patients do want help but they want this help to fit into their lives. One just might think with all this whiz bang technology where all the devices talk to each other, that someone just might come up with a system where the meter seamlessly communicates with the users cell phone or computer – no buttons to push, no cables to attach – just put the meter within a few feet of the computer and the readings would be automatically downloaded. Should the patient opt in, these readings could then be shared with their educator and/or physician, who in turn could contact the patient if they see something isn’t right or even more out of box congratulate them for doing a good job. Positive reinforcement, imagine that.
Staying along these lines why not reward the patient for monitoring their glucose regularly. Every day patients are rewarded for being a loyal pharmacy customer or flying a particular airline. There are thousands of frequent buyer programs and frequent flyer programs; common sense – something not used at BGM companies – tells us that these programs work.
Alas, if a company actually took these steps it would almost be too much for Diabetic Investor to bear. We just might faint if a company actually stopped coming out with worthless technology which only a handful of patients ever use and introduces practical technology that actually helps make life easier for the patient. We might not be able to contain ourselves if companies actually thanked or congratulated patients for testing, instead of using guilt or fear to motivate them.
Still being committed to making life better for the millions of patients with diabetes, Diabetic Investor will tough it out should a company be willing to take this bold action. Considering their collective track records we really don’t think we have much to worry about and can’t wait until their next innovation comes out. We can hardly wait for meters that actually change colors or tell the patient their daily horoscope.