The DiabetesMine Patient Voices Contest


Last month DiabetesMine launched an exciting new program, The Patient Voices Contest.  The contest asks people with diabetes to create a 2-3 minute video testimonial about the biggest challenges they face in their diabetes care, and how they would present those challenges to experts.  The idea is to involve the patient in the design of diabetes care devices.  We talked to Amy Tenderich, editor-in-chief of DiabetesMine, to find out more about the contest, the prizes, and what she hopes will come out of it.

For the last four years we’ve been following the DiabetesMine Design Challenge.  How is this new contest different?  

Our original goal was to kick-start innovation in diabetes care by shouting from the rooftops that design matters ? and that companies need to take a harder look at real life with diabetes.

We wanted everyone to be talking about the fact that medical devices were far behind all the amazing advances in consumer technology and design, and that diabetes tools needed a makeover. I think we’ve accomplished that!

The new Patient Voices Contest tackles the next big challenge: fostering collaboration among the various stakeholders involved in the design of diabetes care solutions. It’s about making “patient-centered design” more than just a buzzword.

Why did you decide to change the format of the Patient Voices contest? 

Let’s face it: “patient-centeredness” remains more of a buzzword than an actual practice! So this year, instead of asking for specific product ideas per se, we’re kind of “sourcing patient needs.” We want to identify a great group of really well-spoken patient advocates who can interact with industry experts and communicate our real-world needs.

Can you explain the importance of having patients involved in the design of diabetes devices?

Who knows better what is needed than the people living with this illness day-in and day-out? It’s important for all industries to pay close attention to their end-users’ needs, but nowhere moreso than in treating a chronic illness, which is such a huge lifestyle determinant.

These aren’t just some music players that we pick up now and then for entertainment; we are struggling to stay healthy 24/7, in many cases with these devices attached to our bodies. It seems a little crazy to have to even ask why it’s important to have the people living with these devices involved in their design!

Why did you decide to go with a video format? 

Video is vibrant. It brings submissions to life. Also, this year’s entries are almost like auditions. we want to see a “live demo” of how people express themselves.

 How important is the quality of the video compared to the quality of the idea?

There are no right or wrong answers, or even “winning concepts” necessarily in this Patient Voices Contest. We’re just looking for 10 great communicators who are inspired and inspiring about patient needs.

In the past Design Challenges, you had prestigious judges like Gary Scheiner, Dr. Steven Edelman and Samantha Katz of Medtronic.  Who are this year’s judges? 

This year, the DiabetesMine editorial team will work with our contacts at IDEO Health & Wellness and a few experts at our parent company, Alliance Health Networks, to select the winners.

The prizes include an iBGStar and scholarships to the DiabetesMine Innovation Summit.  What is the DiabetesMine Innovation Summit?  What are goals of the Summit?

Our goal has always been to shake up the diabetes world, to push the “Powers That Be” to be more innovative in designing their products and services. We’ve also gotta be innovative in finding different ways to go about that…

Last year, we launched the first-ever DiabetesMine Innovation Summit held at Stanford University. It was a historic gathering of the various stakeholders involved in designing and marketing tools for living well with diabetes – Pharma leaders, device designers, mobile health experts, medical investors, diabetes policymakers and physicians and more.  We brought them together with patient advocates to help kick off a new era of collaboration.

We’re really excited to build out the patient representation this year with our team of 10 “e-Patient delegate” winners.

Will the winners present their ideas at the Summit?

Our e-Patient delegates may be asked to speak individually or in groups, under guidance of the IDEO design team, which is helping to facilitate the Innovation Summit again this year.

Delegates will also take part in panel discussions, representing patient needs to industry, regulatory, and design experts. Some of the winning videos may be aired at the Summit, too.

Prior to the Summit, we plan to feature each of our winners on

What sort of expectations do you have for this contest?  Any guesses on what e-patients will come up with?

The sky’s the limit! We hope they come up with stuff that never even crossed our minds… After all, people with diabetes come in all shapes and sizes and walks of life.

What happens after the contest?  Are you hopeful that some of the ideas put forth will become real diabetes devices?

Ideally, what will come out of the Summit is a set of patient-focused design principles that address many of the as-yet-unmet needs of us PWDs. We’d also like to set a standard for involving patients in every step of the design process, from conceptualization to building the product to marketing it.

If we can do that, we will have definitely shaken up the diabetes world! (and the world of all the e-Patients out there with other conditions, too)

What changes would you like to see in diabetes devices?

More integration with smartphone technology, which is definitely happening, and also improved algorithms to help us make sense and make use of all that glucose data! Plus, improved interoperability amongst devices and a standardized way to share our data are huge needs.

Do you have something in mind that would make living with diabetes easier for you?

Have you checked out Allison’s Carbonator 5000 idea? I sure as heck could use one of those!


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