Overstating the obvious
Diabetic Investor just loves it when some group goes out and conducts a survey with patients and then comes up with some brilliant conclusion that was painfully obvious using plain old common sense. The most recent example of this comes from a survey conducted by Cambridge Consultants which concluded; “that the user experience is paramount for diabetes patients when selecting a drug-delivery device.”
According to the survey; “77% of patients would be somewhat or very likely to switch to a new drug-delivery device that was slightly more expensive than their current products if it was easier to use. Factors cited by respondents as influencing a device change include discretion (28%), portability (21%), and new technology or features (17%)”
The survey also found; “while 28% of patients that were given a choice of devices opted to heed the doctor’s recommendation, 21% of respondents selected a device based on their own research. Apparently, this is an informed consumer base, so it definitely would behoove companies involved in diabetes products to optimize industrial design to enhance the user experience.” (Highlighting added by Diabetic Investor)
Now Diabetic Investor does not wish to make light of this survey, even though it tells everyone what is already well known, but we do wonder how long it will take diabetes device companies to wake up and smell the coffee. When will these companies understand that patients in the real world are not engineers and favor ease of use over fancy, whiz bang features that impress everyone expect the person who actually has to use the device.
Since so many diabetes device companies seem clueless as to the impact of their decisions, Diabetic Investor has a simple suggestion that will help these folks design better devices, actually use the device as a patient would use it. And don’t just use it for a day, actually use the device for one month and then ask a simple question; “Would anyone actually use this device each day for the rest of their lives?” Unlike the folks at diabetes device companies who do not have diabetes, patients in the real world do not have the luxury of using something for just thirty days, diabetes devices, insulin delivery devices in particular, are used each and every day.
We also have a suggestion for all the companies who are working on devices that communicate with a mobile phone, computer, Ipad or any other non-diabetes device – use the damn thing as the manual states it should be used. Then ask another simple question; “Would the average patient with diabetes actually use the device as it was designed to be used?”
Too often in the diabetes device world systems are designed not for the average patient but for the minority of patients who are proactive with their diabetes management. In the real world the vast majority of patients, and this includes patients using insulin, prefer devices that are simple to use. They do not care about whiz bang features, connectivity or pretty colors, they want a device that helps make their diabetes management easier, a device that does not intrude on their lifestyle but enhances their lifestyle.
Diabetic Investor has stated on numerous occasions that the majority of patients want to live their lives with their diabetes and not FOR their diabetes. Yet, many diabetes device companies sit around and cannot seem to figure out why patients aren’t embracing all this fancy technology. They seem to believe that the vast majority of patients actually understand how all this whiz bang technology helps them manage their diabetes better or that the vast majority of patients actually care about such things. While it would be great if the vast majority of patients actually understood things like, what their glucose levels mean, carb counting or duration of insulin action – this is not the case in the real world.
Truth be told in the real world the vast majority of patients want simple solutions and don’t want to spend hours reading manuals which are just as complex as the device itself. Consider for a moment the simple task of monitoring glucose, or put more accurately the overly complex task of glucose monitoring. If a patient follows the procedure as outlined in the manual there are nearly 28 steps; all this work to get a number that most patients don’t understand and don’t know how to use.
This same goes for using an insulin pen, while these devices are among the simplest to use, it constantly amazes Diabetic Investor that companies keep trying to make them more complex. As Diabetic Investor has noted previously several companies are working on pens that communicate with mobile devices. If used as intend the patient would perform a glucose test and the mobile device would then tell them how much insulin to dose, this assumes of course the patient has entered all the appropriate information.
The complexity of diabetes devices is another reason why Diabetic Investor believes GLP-1 therapy is the most promising therapy option for Type 2 patients. The patient using a GLP-1 does not need to monitor their glucose levels, there is no carb counting, no worries about duration of action and little threat of hypoglycemia; patients simply inject a pre-set dose and their done. Given the growing popularity of insulin plus oral therapy GLP-1’s also offer another advantage; patients don’t have to worry about remembering to take their pills. As we have noted previously and there are numerous studies that back up this point, therapy non-compliance is not just a problem for insulin using patients but an equal number of patients on orals alone all too often skip taking their pills.
Someone should explain to insulin companies that if they are to have any hope at protecting sales, it would be wise to keep their delivery devices as simple as possible. The reality is the more features a patient needs to learn the more likely it is this patient will switch to a GLP-1. Granted not all things are equal when it comes to choosing a therapy option as there are multiple variables that impact a physician’s decision on which therapy regimen to prescribe, however the “work” involved administering any therapy option is a factor. Physicians know all too well that the fewer steps the patient needs to perform the better.
The bottom line when it comes to diabetes devices is that in their zest to launch even more whiz bang technology, the device companies have forgotten there is a patient out there in the real world who must use this technology each and every day of their lives. Patients who are not engineers, who don’t want devices that require an advanced degree to operate; in the real world patients will favor simplicity over whiz technology. Devices companies would know this if they actually used the devices they make rather than blaming poor compliance on those bothersome patients.