It’s nice to be back in Melbourne after three days of running around the Adelaide Convention Centre, unsuccessfully avoiding CHS and giving myself RSI from the constant tweeting and blogging.

There were some terrific things happening at the conference, it was a chance for me to catch up with some people I only see once a year and to hear and see some interesting new things. So here is a quick final wrap up of my ADS ADEA annual meeting.

Highlights

Overwhelmingly, without a doubt, unquestionably the highlight for me was how the consumer voice was heard at the conference. I wrote about it on Wednesday, so ICYMI, here it is. (But I would like to add that yesterday, at the Diabetes in Schools ADEA Symposium, this was taken to expert level with the inclusion of a STUDENT in the session.)

At morning tea on Thursday, the National Diabetes Services Scheme held a launch of some wonderful new resources for people living with diabetes. Details here. The diabetes and pregnancy resources have a special place in my heart, firstly because I am on the Expert Reference Group working on the program, but more so because the Having a Healthy Baby booklet is a revision (of a revision of a revision) of the Can I Have a Healthy Baby booklet? I was involved in developing well over 10 years ago. It’s great to see that there is still so much value in this resource. There’s a new diabetes and pregnancy website. Check it out!

The ‘little purple room’ on the Abbott stand had me giggling each time I saw it. This was where you were taken to hear about the Freestyle Libre. Because the device is yet to receive TGA approval, regulations state that it cannot be spoken about in the public space.

There were definitely more people tweeting! And I was so thrilled to have people who sat in my two social media sessions on Tuesday reaching out once they had joined Twitter.

Helen Edwards’ (Diabetes Counselling Online) presentation at the social media session on Thursday. I have to say, that overall, I felt the session missed the mark, so it was terrific to have Helen as the final presenter providing actual real and practical advice for those in the room wondering how to incorporate SoMe into their practise.

The number of sessions addressing the psychosocial aspects of living with diabetes was significant this year – I thought more than ever more. This is such a huge step forward – in previous years there has been a little focus on it, but not much. I do believe that the increase is largely due to the considerable contribution being made by the Australian Centre for Behavioural Research in Diabetes. Well done to the team there. And it is a pleasure and a privilege to work with you all!

Hanging out with the few consumer advocates who attended the conference. Thanks to Kim, Kelly, Elise, Jane C and Ashley for being so much fun, providing such useful insight, and talking me down from the ledge the couple of times it was looking like I was getting ready to head off on a rant.

Speaking of which…..

Lowlights

Pesky little things seem to get to me at conferences.

It is really disappointing that the ADS ADEA do not have a stronger SoMe presence at the conference. There was not a single tweet sent from their Twitter account for the whole of the week and their Facebook page has been completely inactive since 1 June.

Nowhere at the conference was there a Twitter wall, which can serve many functions. In addition to keeping those wandering around up to date with what people are saying about the conference, it also has the potential to encourage others to get on board and start sharing their thoughts of what is going on and engaging with other attendees and those not in the room too.

And the App for the conference was possibly the biggest waste of time I have ever seen. It was completely unintuitive, difficult to navigate and confusing. The schedule didn’t sync with my diary, so I couldn’t click on a session I wanted to see and have it added to my calendar for the day.

Social media has a place at this, and all conferences. Despite presenting (twice!) on SoMe on Tuesday at the Roche Educator Day, and there being another session which aimed to encourage HCPs to use SoMe, it was really a second-rate and most unsatisfactory attempt by the ADS and ADEA to utilise digital platforms to engage, connect and share.

I watched the launch of the (recently approved for use in Australia) A1c Now product, which is an A1c check that can be done on the spot. The device looks like a BGL meter and it operates in much the same way (strip in, blood on strip, wait, result!) Great idea – and one that has been around for some time in the US. I actually bought one when I was in New York on one of our visits and had a go.

After the launch, I spoke to the rep. ‘Great to see these are finally here now. I’m not a healthcare professional – I have diabetes myself. How do I get one?’ I asked.

‘They are for use by professionals, so through your HCP.’

At that point, I had to check myself, because I know I had that look on my face. I know I had that look on my face because the bloke I was speaking to looked a little scared all of a sudden.

I took a deep breath. ‘I think you are doing that around the wrong way. Why wouldn’t you make these available direct to people with diabetes?’ I waited for the response. I thought I knew what he was going to say. I thought he was going to tell me that it was important people with diabetes had someone speak to them about what the results meant (at which point I would have said that people with diabetes most often KNOW how to interpret the results) or that it was important for people with diabetes have someone tell them what to do with the result (at which point I would have said that a lot of people with diabetes would KNOW what to do with the result.)

But even I was surprised when he said ‘We don’t want to step on HCPs toes.’ I looked at him incredulously. ‘So what you are saying is that even though this technology has the potential to be used incredibly positively by PWD, you are not willing to make that happen because you are afraid of pissing off HCPs? Really?’

Poor guy. I then told him that one of the reasons people with diabetes might not be getting their A1c checked is because they are afraid of being judged or ‘told off’ by their HCP. And that if they were able to get an idea of what the result might be, it would give them some knowledge and perhaps give them a chance to do something about it.

He thought about it for a while and then said, ‘I see what you are saying. Maybe we’re going about this the wrong way.’ Yes. Yes you are.

Overall, for me – both personally and professionally – it was a valuable three days. So, that’s another conference ticked off for the year. Only another three more to go…

Something fun to end the week and help with the celebrating we’ll be doing around here this week after we all kicked some serious goals!

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