No we are not kidding

No we are not kidding

With J P Morgan wrapping up today and CES ending last week what if anything have we learned about this wacky world headed into the new year. Looking back at CES one thing that hasn’t changed is there are two types of technology, technology that actually helps people and technology which well frankly we’re not sure what it does other than take up time and space. Dexcom (NASDAQ: DXCM) is a perfect example of the former as there is no question their technology is helping patients. Yes, we’ve said it before but it’s worth repeating when it comes to diabetes devices, heck when it comes to diabetes, Dexcom is the posterchild for how a diabetes company should be run.  Smart investors would be wise to take advantage of the recent dip in Dexcom shares.

When it comes to truly stupid technology frankly there are so many examples from CES we cannot do them all justice. Yet among the many way cool whiz bang yet very stupid technology two stand out. The first comes from of all places France and company called D-vine who according to their web site;

“D-Vine is the first wine tasting machine for a wine by the glass experience that provides the perfect oxygenation and temperature for your 10 cl bottles of wine. Let’s try your connected sommelier!”

Since Diabetic Investor is a Miller Lite or Grey Goose operation we reached out to our panel of wine experts. Readers may recall that this same panel helped us select wines for our good buddy Serge and our new best friend Olivier. Here is what one member of the panel noted; “Sounds like an overpriced wine toy. Seriously once you open the bottle and the electric sommelier goes blyach, you can’t send it back.” Now not being a wine drinker we’re sure what blyach means but it doesn’t sound good.

As distinguished as our panel is it possible they are wrong and the D-Vine will actually be a hit. We also thought given they are located in France a natural partner for the D-Vine would be – yep you guessed it – our wine drinking friends at Sanofi (NYSE: SNY). Listen Sanofi may not know jack about diabetes and heaven knows they aren’t a good diabetes partner – just ask AgaMatrix, Medtronic (NYSE: MDT) and now MannKind (NASDAQ: MNKD) – but wine is one of the few things they do know something about. So how about it Serge why not pony up a few bucks and give it a whirl can’t do much worse than Afrezza.

Another truly wacky and very useless piece of technology also comes from another French company D-Parents and is called the Diet Sensor. According to an article posted on the diabetesmine web site; “To use the Diet Sensor, you just hold a small scanner over the food and click the button to light up the thin handheld device the size of a pager, and it takes a photo and transmits that to the smartphone DietSensor app to judge the volume. Then DietSensor reports back with the nutritional value of the food scanned based on the information stored in its database.”

Yes, we can just envision walking into a fancy Chicago steak house, perhaps with our distinguished wine panel, and before enjoying a fine steak we’ll whip out the way cool Diet Sensor. Being so way cool we’re pretty sure that the people seated next to our table will not think we’re a bunch of nuts but will actually ask what this way cool device is all about and they too will buy their very own Diet Sensor.

Listen we know the people who invented the Diet Sensor mean will but seriously did they actually take into account how this device would be used in a real world setting. Oh we forgot these people have no idea what the real world is otherwise they would have never come up with this stupid device.

Just to be serious for a moment the wrap up for CES is simple this isn’t about data collection anymore – seriously how many Bluetooth enabled conventional glucose meters, wearable devices that measure every body function and apps which collect all this data do we really need. Have patients become so lazy and/or stupid that they need some sort of way cool whiz bang device telling them what to eat, when to eat and how to eat. Have we reached the point where every action we perform is monitored, collected, transmitted and analyzed? Is all this way cool whiz bang technology actually helping the patient better manage their diabetes? Is diabetes management being made simpler? Are patients actually saving time and/or money because of this way cool whiz bang technology?

Or is the reverse actually true, that all this way cool whiz bang technology isn’t helping at all. That instead of making diabetes management simpler and easier the exact opposite is happening. That instead of tuning in all this information is making patients tune out. Is not possible that patients really don’t want everything they do collected and analyzed. That maybe just maybe they want to live their lives with diabetes not for their diabetes, that diabetes management should be part of their lives but not run their lives.

Switching gears to JPM for a moment, and yes we will have a JPM wrap up as well, this is the reason we are so high on what Intarcia is doing. Once the micro pump is implantable that’s it the patient doesn’t have to do a damn thing. No need to monitor their glucose, no need to carry a meter, vial of test strips and a lancing device. No worries about what they are eating, when they are eating or how they are eating. No need to excuse themselves from the table so they don’t have to inject insulin in public. No worries about checking their smartphone before they eat, no dosing calculations, no pills to swallow, no worries about hypoglycemia. Heck they may just lose a few pounds as an added bonus.

What all these tech companies who come up with all this way cool whiz bang technology fail to grasp is that the dream of every person with diabetes is NOT to have diabetes. How great it would be to even have just a few days off from diabetes management. That all this way cool whiz bang technology is just another reminder they have diabetes and this diabetes must be managed.

The other day while walking around that beautiful city of San Francisco and seeing everyone and we mean everyone using a smartphone it dawned on us why IDM has such a long way to go. Whether the person was texting, making a call, looking for a restaurant or getting a cab this interaction was not just a positive experience but there was an immediate benefit, a tangible result. Diabetes management just isn’t like that – all this advice a patient is getting on their smartphone from data collected and transmitted from their smartphone is NOT providing a positive experience, there isn’t an immediate benefit nor tangible result.

Yes, over time this advice may yield better patient outcomes yet it is hard to say IDM is actually making diabetes management easier. One could easily argue the exact opposite is true.

The harsh reality is that IDM cannot give the patient what they want most which is not to have diabetes in the first place. Nor can IDM give them the next best thing which would be making their lives easier. Nor do they see IDM saving them money. Yes, there is a small segment of the market which will use and actually embrace IDM. However, as it stands today the vast majority of patients won’t use it as they just don’t see its benefits. This is the hurdle that must be overcome – yes we know this is redundant but it’s not about data collection nor is it just about transforming data into patient relevant patient actionable information. Before any action can be taken companies must find a way to effectively communicate so that patient actually reads the damn text message that was sent to their smartphone.

Way back in the day when direct mail marketing was all the rage companies spent millions designing envelopes. As one leader in this field used to say – “I don’t care how well written the letter is or how great the offer is if the consumer doesn’t open the envelope it doesn’t matter.”

It’s time for all these companies to start working on the damn envelope.