My Diabetes Data Journey

We always enjoy hearing from folks with diabetes that also work in the pharma/device industry, to have a glimpse to what spurred them to build a career within the specialty.

Recently, we’re thrilled to welcome longtime type 1 Jim Berkebile to our DiabetesMine Innovation Summit at Stanford University, joining us in the San Diego offices of Tandem DiabetesCare, manufacturers of the t:slim insulin pump (and a major sponsor of our Summit.) Yep, apart from his private experience with type 1 for the past three years since age 14, Jim is Director of Marketing & New Product Development at Tandem. Before starting there in 2010, he spent years several working up the rankings at JnJ-owned Animas. So, he’s certainly got some diabetes industry together with private D-cred under his belt!

Since Jim’s bio tells it : “He features whatever success he’s had in managing diabetes (and in life in general) to constantly searching for the proper balance of mind, body and soul. Spending time with his loved ones, hammering his mind through reading, and remaining active running, biking, and swimming keep him occupied outside of the office.”

Polished bio apart, we are eager to hear some personal insight from Jim about what “free the information” can mean to PWDs:

A Guest Post from Jim Berkebile

Obnoxious cacophony from a 1980’s era alarm clock shot through morning quiet like a buzz saw and awakened me awake far earlier than any man should actually be awakened, let alone a teenager on Saturday morning. Another quarterly fasting trip to Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh — yet another opportunity for one who already “knew it all” to demonstrate just how much I knew about the importance of diabetes info. Just hours before, I had methodically compiled 3 weeks of blood glucose and shot data (Lente and Regular mixed two times a day) on a sheet of paper from “memory.”

While stirring from my slumber, I grabbed my meter and after waiting what seemed like an eternity, “252” appeared on the monitor. I’d better take one last quick scanning of my logs to make sure the ink is completely dry before becoming ready for the morning. Hmm, too many of my glucose values seem to end in “4” or “7.” Too late now to do anything about it… maybe Dr. Feingold (who had a decade of instruction) wouldn’t notice. Darn it all! In my young eagerness to complete my mission last night I had pre-fabricated a blood glucose reading of 117 with this morning. Things to do, what to do?! Several brisk laps round the block later in an attempt to reduce my blood glucose to something more like 117 than 254, we had been en route to the practice.

Looking back, I don’t have any illusion that my pay was preserved through this quarterly facade. Pristine log sheets without a single blood smear, tattered corner or tear — together with the ink of a single pen still drying were pretty clear clues. But in the absence of some other information (besides the A1c that could be sent out a week after), there was little use for anyone to reveal my not-so-secret deception.

Much has changed since then.

Several weeks back, I combined a passionate group of diabetes tech leaders at the DiabetesMine Innovation Summit to continue their tradition of sparking the sorts of conversations that really matter for people living with diabetes. In the Summit, I had been told that of course there is a lot to be hopeful for in the future, both on the Artificial Pancreas front and together with the ultimate goal of diabetes prevention/cure. As a community, we continue to hope that this progress will not stay on the distant horizon — ever just glimpsed but evaporating when viewed — for a lot longer. But there is a whole lot that we can do NOW. When it comes to obtaining the exact private data I want to notify the hundreds of diabetes decisions that face me every day, thank goodness now’s NOW has come so far as my teenage foolishness.

Last weekend in preparation for spending the greater part of the forthcoming week traveling, I uploaded my t:slim insulin pump and blood glucose meter to the t:link diabetes management application on my Mac at home. Seeing tendencies and creating a few tweaks allowed me to take the sharp corners from the blood sugar rollercoaster that inevitably seems to accompany long flights, time zone differences, unknown meals, and erratic schedules. I couldn’t do this without the information.

Unfortunately, based on info from T1D Exchange recently published in diaTribe, the majority of people living with diabetes not to upload information from their apparatus at home. For a lot of it is just viewed as a hassle using the sole payoff being graphs and charts that are not simple to comprehend.

We want better tools NOW.   Our t:link program was developed after thousands of interviews with people with diabetes, using the exact same guiding emphasis on ease of usage employed in the progression of the t:slim Pump. Users can quickly and easily identify meaningful info and trends leading to more informed diabetes decisions. We are proud t:link was recently acknowledged as the #1 customer applications by the dQand also a Patient Panel.

At the exact same time, we also recognize that one size won’t ever fit all when it comes to diabetes info needs. Starting from the principle which the information is the patient’s in every manner in which the disease itself is, it follows naturally that the patient should have the ability to choose exactly how and where they see their information, and who else can see it. That’s why we’ve opened up our communication protocols to both Diasend and Tidepool (since announced at the DiabetesMine Summit at November).

Info in the t:slim can be coupled with data from different apparatus (BG meters, CGMs, activity monitors) to produce a more connected string of all the factors which will need to be connected together to make sense of life with diabetes. Individuals who expect us to play a role in their diabetes care have an immediate need for their information as they want to obtain an edge in tackling the repetitive demands of living with a state where you will find neither breaks nor holidays. The more great alternatives which are available, the more probable it is that the information will truly be used in support of earning life with diabetes easier.

We are proud to be producing partnerships with those in the diabetes community that are dedicated to improving the lives of people with diabetes.

Thirty years ago, I seen diabetes info as something I needed to assemble to check the box and keep my maintenance team off my spine. Luckily, with today’s tools, that match is behind us. Somewhere right now, now’s upgraded version of me in 30 years ago is viewing data from his t:slim, and using it to make living with diabetes easier. Knowing that makes everything we do worth it.

Thanks, Jim! We appreciate the hard work of folks at Tandem Diabetes and especially your own private passion for a type 1!

Disclaimer: Content created by the Diabetes Mine team. For more details click here.


This content is created for Diabetes Mine, a customer health blog concentrated on the diabetes community. The content is not medically reviewed and does not adhere to Healthline’s editorial instructions. To learn more regarding Healthline’s partnership with Diabetes Mine, please click here.

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