Karin's Corner

The Importance of Patient Entrepreneurs

Lately, there has been a change in the approach of how people are perceiving diabetes and the people living with the disease. 

When I was diagnosed with T1D in 1989, diabetes was considered a very serious disease. One changed behaviors, got on insulin, and tried very hard to avoid going high in blood sugar to avoid complications. Nowadays, the attitude is that we live with the disease and can be like everyone else! ‘The disease should not limit us, and if we use advanced gadgets we can live beyond the disease without thinking about it too much.’

As you can imagine, this attitude does not work with the chronic and progressive nature of the disease.

Despite all technology, we cannot live a life without thinking about diabetes all the time if we want to stay healthy.

This is the problem with today’s approaches and the spirit in which we are teaching our newly diagnosed friends and family. There are definitely individuals who, like me, want to understand every aspect of diabetes to treat it better and to find a cure for everyone. Though the larger group of people just want a life in which they can focus on family, work, hobbies and everything but diabetes!

So what can we do? The over ambitious few will always pursue additional detail, perfect blood sugars and the financings of products that make the control a little bit better with a lot of extra effort. Even I, being an MD, PhD, and life sciences executive for almost two decades, could not manage the technology day in and day out. I ended up attempting to stay stable, but was a little too high most of the time (which led to kidney and eye complications). So how can someone with a busy life who is less tech savvy use all these new devices?

For the people with little time to themselves, lack of access and training, we must find other motivators and ways to achieve control until we find real cures.

There are great examples of success using this principle – John Sjölund created a cap for insulin pens that tells the patients when and how much insulin was dosed; Jennifer Ross is responsible for Bemixed, a sugar-free, organic and delicious cocktail mixer; Jeffrey Brewer leads Bigfoot with a team of people motivated beyond money to create a closed loop that removes the burden of dealing with diabetes; Matt Loper motivated by his family’s plague with T2D is creating an incredible based adherence plan that helps patients improve their health and thus reduces costs for insurers and providers. Finally John Crowley’s career has been motivated by his children’s struggle with Pompe’s Disease, a rare neuromuscular disorder, to found Novazyme Pharmaceuticals in his quest to find a cure.

At Lyfebulb, we want to create an environment where leading drug/device/biotech and Healthcare IT, as well as consumer companies, listen to innovators and leaders from the patient communities – not just for marketing and advocacy but for innovation and strategy.

Patient Entrepreneurs are future leaders in their own space – they are motivated by their personal curse that they have turned into a passion and an opportunity to create wealth and power.

What could be better from a socioeconomic perspective than to move the cost from the victim to revenue generated by a patient leader?

As people living with diabetes, it should never be a sacrifice to modify our diets or change our behavior – it is an investment in our future! Take charge of your health and future – become or start supporting patient entrepreneurs!

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