Hamsters on the wheel

Hamsters on the wheel

Lately Diabetic Investor has been looking at some of the new technologies and systems under development and reached some conclusions. The most important of which is many of the companies that are developing these way cool whiz bang cloud enabled products and systems are like hamsters on a wheel, running in place with no way to get off. This is not to say that these products and systems could not be successful, however that would mean the hamster would have to get off the wheel.

Another problem that is becoming increasingly obvious is that some very smart people seem to be making things up as they go along. That they are basing entire business strategies on a supposition rather than seeing markets as they really are. They are getting ready to spend millions of dollars and countless hours on nothing more than a hunch.

The constant missing piece of the puzzle is that for the most part these companies have forgotten about the people who will be using these products and system. We’ve said it before and will say it again the companies that win in this space share a common belief, put the patient first and everything else will flow from there.  Yes, there are other factors that determine success and/or failure but consistently the companies that win have made the needs of the patient the centerpiece of their strategy.

Everyone knows we consider Dexcom (NASDAQ: DXCM) to be the standard for how a diabetes company should be run. Sure, they have a great product but at their core Dexcom puts the needs of the patient first. This really should shock no one as the team at Dexcom mostly came from MiniMed, before it was acquired by Medtronic (NYSE: MDT). Given there are so many new people in this wacky world indulge us for a moment while we provide a historical perspective.

Back in the day when there were just two insulin pump companies, MiniMed and Disetronic, most experts felt of the two Disetronic had the better technology. Yet, MiniMed became the market leader. Why? Because they put the patient first. MiniMed not only had the best marketing material, an outstanding sales team plus over the top great customer service.  MiniMed knew their customer wasn’t payers, physicians or CDE’s they were intensively managed most Type 1 patients. MiniMed did not ignore the others rather at their core the patient came before them.

Keep in mind insulin pumping back then was brand spanking new and unlike today was not a generally accepted therapy regimen. It was not until that the results of the landmark DCCT study became public that physicians began believing in intensive insulin management. Most who were around back then would agree that DCCT validated insulin pump therapy. Still being a new therapy option with insulin continuously delivered by a machine selling pumps was not an easy task. As we say all the time insulin is not only a lifesaving drug but also a lethal drug when administered improperly.

Unlike today back then there was no such thing as a CGM, patients new to insulin pump therapy back in the day had to record multiple glucose readings throughout the day so they could properly calibrate their pump. Those of us who went through this ordeal used to joke that we stuck our fingers so many times that we leaked whenever we drank anything.

MiniMed understood all this and more. They knew that insulin pump therapy while very effective was a life altering therapy option and not just for the patient. While most ignore the impact, diabetes has on patient’s family MiniMed did not, they knew that the patient may be the one with diabetes but the entire family was impacted.

This is the reason MiniMed won against what was supposed to be better technology, they ALWAYS put the needs of the patient first. They knew that their customer was the PATIENT.

They did not run around like hamsters on wheel. They did not base a strategy on a hunch. They did not spend millions hoping it would all work out in the end. They listened to the critics, really listened and did not summarily dismiss what these critics had to say just because it did not match their beliefs.

As Momma Kliff used to say; “Strong people can handle and actually crave feedback that does not necessarily match their perspective.  Like anyone else strong people love positive feedback but they understand they only way they can get better is knowing what they aren’t doing right.”

Today far too many in this space are drinking the kool-aid and not taking a realistic view of not just where we are today but where things will be in the future.