Old School vs. New School

Old School vs. New School

There are some clear trends emerging in the diabetes device world. As everyone knows the most prevalent trend is the push towards interconnected diabetes management (IDM). Yes, nearly every device whether it be a conventional glucose monitor, a continuous glucose monitor or insulin pump is now cloud enabled. Coming soon will be “smart” insulin pens which also communicate with the cloud.

As we have noted on balance this push has the potential to improve patient outcomes. Yet, remnants of the past remain alive and well even with these newer whiz bang way cool cloud enabled systems. Just by way of example thanks to our friends at Johnson and Johnson (NYSE: JNJ) Diabetic Investor recently received the new OneTouch® Verio Flex glucose monitor. Now before we go further let’s be clear this is a pretty cool system and on balance we’d give it good marks.

Yet, what we found ironic is that as way cool as this system is, it’s hard for companies to completely leave the past.  We noticed this from the moment we opened the box which contained not one but two 116 manuals, one in English the other in Spanish, there were also two quick start guides also in English and Spanish finally besides the insert which explains the test strips used with the system there was the obligatory product registration card- which includes the following “Register Now and receive two complimentary logbooks to track your blood sugar results over time.”

Not to digress but does it not seem somewhat idiotic to give patients an old fashioned logbook when this meter when synced with a smartphone delivers readings to the JNJ’s way cool Reveal® mobile app. Does it not also make sense that instead of making the patient fill out a product registration card or go to the OneTouch web site to register their meter that this be done when they sync it with the app. Does it not also make sense that instead of printing manuals which surely costs a few bucks, that these manuals be part of the app. Isn’t the point of any cloud enabled device to get the patient to use the frickin app that works with the device.

Looking over the quick start guide it clearly covers how to connect the device to the app. Yet even this relatively easy procedure includes more steps than necessary as the patient must enter a PIN number when they sync the meter and app for the first time. To Diabetic Investor this seems like an unneeded step. As the late Al Mann once said the more things you ask the patient to do the more likely it is they will screw something up. Why not just have the patient confirm the meter’s serial number which shows up while the meter is syncing with the app.

Now to be fair to our good friends at JNJ we don’t know the FDA’s position on any of this. Perhaps the FDA requires that they include manuals. Perhaps the FDA requires a PIN to activate the app. We mention this as when Insulet (NASDAQ: PODD) came out with a new personal diabetes manager (PDM) the device which controls the OmniPod the FDA required additional basically meaningless steps that patient must go through to use the PDM. Keep in mind this is the same FDA who seems to believe that insulin using patients are like heroin addicts who share syringes and lancets with reckless abandon, also the same FDA which is now considering regulating lancets, yes lancets.

However, should it turn out the FDA does not require printed manuals the question is why provide them at all especially when the cost of printing is factored in to the equation. Again to be clear here we are in now way singling out JNJ as other meters which have been provided to Diabetic Investor also include all this extra and quite frankly unneeded paper. Also we will reiterate that this is a very cool meter and the app isn’t bad either.

Think of it this way and this question is not for any engineers out there, when was the last time anyone actually read a manual before using any new device. In this interconnected world of ours isn’t everybody using their smartphone or computer when they actually need a manual. And let’s be honest here if anyone needs the actual manual to start using a meter, the meter is too complex to begin with. Heck if they really need one why not refer them to the web site where it can be downloaded.

We can also think of another reason besides all the logical common sense reasons for doing this, the tree huggers will love it. With the notable exception of Donald Trump, we still live in a PC world and think of the kudos and accolades a company would get for saving all those trees. Yes, meter companies could not only promote the way cool whiz band systems they have that come in pretty colors, with this they could state they are now environmentally friendly too.

One last thought here back in the day, people looked forward to getting the Sears Catalog in their mailbox. Well today that catalog has been replaced by a web page, the mail box is now electronic and Sears is mere shell of its once former self.  This as Momma Kliff says is called progress, isn’t it about time the folks in the diabetes device world along with the FDA get with the program.