So my virtual presence tweeting on things health and diabetes related finally got me an invite to something BIG!!
What was this big thing? Well it was the opening of a office in Northern Ireland for the company Hygeia, a company that has created a diabetes management tool called the dNav.
The night of 25th June 2014 saw me in a room with the NI Minister for Health, the NI Chief Medical Officer, a representative of the US Consul in Northern Ireland plus many other top bods in the health sector.
What is dNav? Well its a tool to help people manage their insulin. Yes its a blood meter, yes it allows you to record details of 'events' that may explain why a certain reading was what it was, yes it allows you to input your insulin given and yes it recommends adjustments based on a lot of complicated mathematical stuff where it looks at trends etc - nothing new for a lot of people - but for those using the system they would never give it up.
Its the real stories that say its a benefit - the company will freely admit its not for everyone - diabetes is individual to each and every person - but I got the chance to meet someone, a person with Type 2 diabetes whose hba1c has gone from 9 to 6.1, why? He said the dNav gave him confidence, the dNav gave him guidance, the dNav educated him and the dNav empowered him - a very positive story.
But as I said, the dNav will not work for all, I heard of another person, this time with Type 1 diabetes, who tried it, it got their total insulin dose down from 90 units to 20 units, but it wasn't fully suitable for them individually. What it did prove was that the patient was a candidate for an insulin pump, and that person has now started on that solution.
At present there are over 170 people trialing the dNav - the majority are people who have Type 2 diabetes who treat their condition by insulin - either one injection of lantus daily or a basal bolus regime - people who struggle to adjust their own insulin, people who would like a bit of help.
The Minister for Health put it quite well when he set out the number of people who lose sight, limbs or end up on kidney dialysis as complications associated with their diabetes, and most normally due to poor control, anything that can assist people to be empowered to manage their condition and to show the levels of improvement that were discussed at the event tonight must be encouraged.
I was particularly interested to hear of the work on the next stages of developing the dNav system, areas like allowing the dNav to upload data to a persons Electronic Care Record, either daily or weekly electronically by means of a port, instant benefits for people who may move because of work or marriage - a new team in both General Practice and Hospital Care would have instant access to data showing your trends etc.
There are many tools to empower people to manage their condition, and access to those tools is not always what it needs to be, there will always be a struggle to get what many want; often feel that they need. That fight will go on, but hopefully with the empowerment I saw tonight in people who have benefited from the dNav and hearing from health care professionals on how even it is teaching them things about the condition, one of the glass ceilings has been broken.
I will close using a bit of a story the founder of Hygeia used to explain the system, with a bit of ad lib from myself - 'diabetes is like being on a boat and trying to sail the oceans, its easy to be told sail West that will get you were you are going, but too often you hit currents, bad weather, lack of wind; in those days you need a little bit of help to get back on track, you need a little bit of navigation' Safe journeys.