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Christopher Snider on working in diabetes and Tidepool's latest updates

April 27, 2019 by Scott Johnson

In today’s show, Scott chats with Christopher Snider, experienced podcaster, who works for Tidepool, a company that is working to make your data easier to compile, follow, and even share.

Summary

  • Christopher’s history with diabetes and his podcast
  • How Tidepool helps you organize your data
  • Using Tidepool with your devices

Resources

Video

Transcript

Scott Johnson: Have you ever felt frustrated when you try to pull together all the diabetes numbers in your life? I know I have and, I bet we all have at one time or another. Stick with us because today we’re talking about exactly that.

Scott Johnson: What’s up, Monster Tamers? Welcome to another episode of Live with Scott. Thanks so much for tuning in. My name is Scott Johnson. I’ve been living with diabetes since I was five years old, and the diabetes social media space – that’s you, by the way – has been an important part of my wellbeing for a long, long time. Thanks so much for helping me along.

Scott Johnson: As your host today, I’m thrilled to connect you with Christopher, because he’s a longtime advocate for people with diabetes, and he’s doing great things at an organization called Tidepool. We’ll fill you in on all of that as we get into the show. He’s always someone I enjoy visiting with, too, and I think you’ll enjoy hearing from him as well.

Scott Johnson: We also have a winner this week. I’d like to send a big congratulations out to Susan Marshall who just won some cool mySugr swag. Susan, we sent you a message on Facebook to coordinate details. Everyone else, stay tuned for your chance to win.

Scott Johnson: While we get going, please share a quick hello in the comments and let me know where you’re watching from. Hey, Brian. Good to see you again. Thanks for tuning in. Today’s episode is sponsored by the mySugr Bundle. Get unlimited strips, automatic supply refills, personalized support, and more, all for just $49 per month. Learn more at mySugr.com/facebooklive.

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Scott Johnson: Now, for more on today’s guest. Christopher Snider was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in 2002. Since then, he has gone on to create and, as he says, somewhat abandon his diabetes blog. He’s also created and maintained a weekly podcast since 2009, which is a remarkable feat in itself. He’s also created many new ways to engage with the diabetes online community through platforms like My Diabetes Secret. His wife also has type 1 diabetes, which makes Christopher both a patient and a caregiver. He’s the community manager at Tidepool, a nonprofit organization dedicated to making diabetes data more accessible, meaningful, and actionable through their open source software that is freely available to diabetes and clinicians.

Scott Johnson: Let’s dive right into this week’s conversation with Christopher.

Scott Johnson: Hey, Christopher. Thanks so much for coming back and spending some time with me. Good to see you again.

Christopher Snider: It’s exciting to be the person that has to answer the questions, not ask the questions. Thank you for having me, “Live, with Scott!” I’m just gonna do this (air quotes) the entire time we’re having this conversation, “Live, with Scott!” Is that breaking the fourth wall? Do people know?

Scott Johnson: People know. People do know. So we… And the reason, I’ll tell everyone the reason we started to do the pre-recorded segments, is that I started having some serious technical difficulties bringing on my guests live, live, like in the moment. In the spirit of making sure that you, viewers, have a great experience watching the show; we turn to capturing the pre-recorded segments shortly before the broadcasts go live. So, it’s all about you viewers, and you’re welcome.

Christopher Snider: And really, we do this for you. That makes sense. I get it, I’m not sure what your interest is actually going to be, but I dabble in podcasting, thus this awesome microphone. I understand the challenges of getting anybody else to participate in some sort of a recorded conversation, be it video or audio. It’s a mess.

Scott Johnson: Yeah.

Christopher Snider: When it comes together, it’s great, but what you don’t see is the duck on the pond, legs fluttering underneath. It’s all sorts of madness happening behind the scenes. It’s beautiful.

Scott Johnson: On some unfortunate instances; so the one I remember most vividly which was actually the big pivot point for me, was when I had the honor and privilege of having Jane Dickinson; an amazing woman and currently AADE’s 2019 Educator of the Year and… I mean, I could go on and on about how amazing Dr. Dickinson is. She graced me with her presence and time to come on the episode and my computer slash, the Bermuda triangle that I was in for that room, the whole thing melted down and everyone got to see the underside of the duck in the pond and the chaos that was. It was just a terrible, terrible experience.

Christopher Snider: Yeah, that’s… I feel like, if it were me that it’s happening to, I’ll deal. We’ve been friends for a long time, that’s fine, but for somebody of her stature and impact that she’s had professionally on so many lives, that’s a whole different level of embarrassment. I would imagine she was cool with it, like you know, these things happen, technical difficulties are a thing, but it’s a different kind of pressure that you wanted to be… You’re always on your A game. You want to make sure you’re on your A plus, plus, plus, plus game for somebody like that. That’s always awkward.

Scott Johnson: Yeah and again, for all our viewers who were so excited to see her, but you know… With that, let’s spend a few minutes helping people better understand who is Mr. Christopher Snider, and with that I would love for them to hear as much as you’d like to share about your epic, longstanding podcasting history, because you have been doing podcasting for more years than I can remember. I have spent an embarrassing amount of time with you in my ear.

Christopher Snider: I’m so sorry.

Scott Johnson: No, and that sounds so weird but it’s true. You have helped me pass time in my car. You have helped me pass time doing yard work, and chores, and traveling. Thank you, first and foremost, for all of the time and energy you have devoted to your craft, sir.

Christopher Snider: Of course. All right, so let’s start the clock. Let’s see if I can do this in under five minutes.
So my podcasting journey starts with my diabetes journey. I was diagnosed with type 1 in 2002. In 2009 I hopped onto the website called Twitter and found one Kerri Sparling, a previous guest on “Live, with Scott!” People watching this likely know who she is. Shout out to Kerri. It was in that moment, and finding her on Twitter, and finding her blog, that I realized that I was not alone with diabetes, so it took me seven years to come to that acknowledgment.

Christopher Snider: From there I eventually started my own blog that is now collecting digital dust, but the URL is still out there in case you want to go review some of my prose. But from the diabetes blog, I eventually… There’s a whole other tangent here. I was also active in a video game community website and they had a guest blogging feature over there, so I was writing video game related posts that were on the video game website and one of the editors there said, “Hey, we like your stuff. You should publish on the front page instead of just in the guest blog section.” Then from there I got invited to be a guest on one of their podcasts, and after that went well I eventually participated in a weekly podcast and then took over the production of that podcast, and then got bored talking just about video games, so I created my own podcast, called it “Just Talking” – it’s very appropriately named – where I would interview people and have them share their stories.

Christopher Snider: I started with talking to people in my video game community and people with diabetes because that’s who I knew. Very quickly ran out of those folks and then just started cold calling anybody I thought had an interesting story to tell. That includes patient advocates I met through a conference called Stanford Medicine X. It was there in Stanford that I learned that patient advocates across the board are generally talking about the same thing, you just replace the noun. Diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, cystic fibrosis, cancer, the specifics are obviously going to be important to them, but generally speaking we’re talking about the same stuff.

Christopher Snider: That was an eye-opening experience for me there. That’s when I started to expand my podcast guests to pretty much anybody with any sort of patient advocacy story, and that’s been a really exciting thing for me. So, that’s the podcasting part. Also, there’s the real-life part where my diabetes blog, at the same time, my now wife – spoiler, we’re married – we’ve got… There’s a cat. Oh, she woke up, hi Ernie. So I’m going to hold the cat, hang on one second.

Christopher Snider: So from my diabetes blog, there was also an effort from the American Diabetes Association. At the time, they were launching their “Stop Diabetes” campaign and the communications person who was responsible for blogger outreach at the time, Dayle Kern, she included me in that initial email, and that was also early enough in my Twitter lifetime that I was paying attention to my new followers, so she was, I mean, paying attention to the community. She had to follow all of us on Twitter. So I got that new Twitter follower email, clicked on it, saw it’s like… And I literally said to myself, at least, “She’s cute and she’s local.” So I followed her back and then from there, I basically haven’t left her alone ever since, and that was 2009. November 2009 is when we first met for cupcakes. Haven’t left her alone, got married, had cupcakes at the wedding.

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Christopher Snider: The other part that’s part of this is that she also has type 1 diabetes. She uses the same technology that I do, so, in case one of us runs out of supplies we have backups.

Scott Johnson: Always nice.

Christopher Snider: It is always nice. So yeah, so that’s that part.

Scott Johnson: Let’s hold on there for a second now, because you’re skipping ahead. So I’ve known you guys for a long… I’ve enjoyed knowing you both for a long time. There’s the whole like, her job, moving from one side of the country to the other, and you…

Christopher Snider: That’s the great period that we don’t talk about.

Scott Johnson: Okay, okay.

Christopher Snider: But it does end with me packing up the cats, moving across the country, and as soon as I get to San Francisco from where we live… We live in Virginia, she got a job in San Francisco, and then a few months later I packed up the cats and drove across the country. As soon as I got into her apartment and we got the cats secured, I proposed to her in my grubby sweatpants because I had been on the road for eight hours, or whatever it was. The first thing I did when I got to her in San Francisco was proposing. I wanted to make sure that I was clear in my intentions in what was being discussed, and on the way… Oh geez, you got the microphone.

Christopher Snider: On the way to San Francisco, I stopped in Huntsville to speak with her moms and ask for permission, which they gave, which was nice. That worked out well. But yeah, I guess I am a bit of a romantic at heart. Again, driving across the country is a very, very big deal but I also wanted to make sure that it wasn’t just, you know… I had clearly thought out what I was going to do. So yeah, that worked out well.

Scott Johnson: I would say so. It’s a beautiful story, which is why I kind of probed you to not just jump over that whole bit. Now you don’t…

Christopher Snider: It’s weird, like I tell that story so often that I forget how awesome it is at times. We’re coming up on our anniversary in a few months, and I’ll figure out something great to give her, hopefully, aside from presents, but like being present in the moment is a thing that I need to work on, but also we’ve known each other since 2009. We’re going on 10 years, like that’s a long, long time for any kind of relationship, let alone one that has turned into what we have today where we have these two cats. I got one, he’s kind of fluffy. I’ve got a puppy that’s running around here who’s probably chewing on a rawhide bone, another cat upstairs. We have this house, we’ve got this job that I’m working that we’re gonna talk about, Tidepool, at some point probably. Because that’s what I asked to talk about, even though we’re never going to get to it.

Christopher Snider: But, you know, at the end of the day, so much of my life I have to give credit to diabetes for. None of this would have happened. I wouldn’t have met you, wouldn’t have met Kerri or any of those other great advocates. I wouldn’t have this job, I wouldn’t have this house, I wouldn’t have Dale. None of this would have happened without diabetes, and as much as diabetes sucks, and there are great opportunities to make diabetes suck less… I’m staying on message there. You try and find the positives there, and for me, as much as this disease can be a bummer, and it is for me at times. Everybody has their highs and lows, but I owe so much that is great in my life to diabetes. It’s a weird thing to think about at times, but it becomes easier because the good and the great continue. All things considered, I’m doing all right, and I feel okay about that.

Scott Johnson: I think that’s a beautiful message. I think it’s also a message that… Well that outlook on living with diabetes sort of feeds into itself, and so it’s something that I have to work hard at. Sometimes I have to work hard at it. For example, diabetes has really given it to me on those days where no matter what I do, my blood sugar is still a mess or I’m making all the right choices – there’s an air quotes there, all the right choices – right?

Christopher Snider: Your diabetes may vary. What’s right for you might not be right for somebody else, and that’s okay. You do you. I’m not gonna judge.

Scott Johnson: And you know, you make all those choices, all the good choices, the right choices, but the blood sugars don’t cooperate. I have to make really conscious choices to remain positive or feed the positive monster instead of the negative monster, right? I think that it’s important to try and do that, and you and Dale are a great, inspiring example of that positivity that can come along with diabetes, so thank you for that.

Christopher Snider: Thank you. I think as my visibility has increased and acknowledging my visibility in the diabetes community, it was… it still is a little awkward to be like “Oh hey, I read your blog. I visit ‘My Diabetes Secret‘, I read your typo emails, I listen to your podcast.”

Christopher Snider: I put myself out there and you do that with the intent and hope that somebody’s going to- this cat is going to jump on me, I know it. But, you engage in all these online platforms with the hope that at some point somebody’s going to pay attention and maybe respond. Click that like button, whatever. Then whenever you actually see the result of that, you talk with people at different conferences and meetups and things like that, you understand like- oh no, we’ve been present in these spaces for a really long time. We’ve seen each other get married, have kids, move around, all these other things. Through all the positive and the negative. We’ve experienced loss together. All of these things have grown out of the community because we put ourselves out there and it’s a really-it’s a special thing that, despite my current beliefs on what Twitter is enabling, I still owe, again- I owe a lot of positive things in my life to diabetes. I also owe it to Twitter.

Christopher Snider: That’s a weird thing to say now, in 2019 but at the time it wasn’t that and it enabled a lot of great connection to take place and I still maintain a lot of those relationships. Obviously, including my wife.
You and me Scott, we’ve known each other for a really long time. Part of that is because of Twitter. That’s a weird thing to say, especially in 2019.

Scott Johnson: Weird, and cool. Let’s shift gears a little bit and talk about your visibility and the work that you do lead you into your current, actual full-time day job employment. Let’s talk about who you work for, what you do there, and why you’re on the show today. I think that’s uh- people are interested in hearing about that and-

Christopher Snider: Can-hang on.. I mean, I- this is your show but I’m representing Tidepool, you’re representing mySugr, like can you- are there times you ever think about how wild that is? Like, the positions that we find ourselves in that sort of started one way or another with each of us sharing our personal stories on a silly diabetes blog that we created. Like, it-

Scott Johnson: I think about it every morning and…

Christopher Snider: We’re getting paid to have this conversation and we’re going to get to the part where we discuss our day jobs and do what we’re supposed to do, but this is what we do.

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Scott Johnson: Yeah. Every day. Every day I wake up, I’m thankful, I’m thankful to have an opportunity to serve the mySugr users and the diabetes community. Actually, whether or not, you know-use mySugr or not, I think that what we’re doing is we’re helping increase the level of awareness of diabetes information and diabetes products and services, and kind of helping drown out the bad information that is out there; so, it’s much the same as what we were doing years and years and years ago but hopefully on a much greater scale than what we were able to accomplish on our own.

Scott Johnson: Also, one of the things that I remember from the early days of social media is that I would pour my energy into that social media but I was greatly distracted by having to go earn a living and pay my rent and groceries and keep the lights on. Now, I’m able to- thanks to the great people at mySugr, I’m able to pour all of myself into everyone watching and by doing that I’m paying my rent and keeping the lights on and serving the community. It’s allowing me to do more of what I love, and I think what the community needs and it’s one of those great circles that feeds itself in many ways.

Christopher Snider: Yeah. I describe it as waking up thinking about the work that I get to do, not that I have to do.

Scott Johnson: Yeah. Absolutely.

Christopher Snider: It’s still wild to think that we’ve made it here and to see the successes that so many other people have created for themselves in part, because of this wild journey. Alright, so, I work at Tidepool.

Scott Johnson: Before we jump to that though..

Christopher Snider: That was my Segway. You ruined it.

Scott Johnson: I know. I’m so sorry. You’re the Segway master but I think it’s important to say, though, that-and I believe you feel the same way, but that every day-I feel the same way about, I wake up and I get to do that but at the same time I never take it for granted because without those watching, we wouldn’t be here. Without a successful, thriving diabetes marketplace and economy and things like that, we wouldn’t be here.

Scott Johnson: I know that things can change quickly. I know that I’ve been through layoffs in diabetes companies. So, many, many years ago I worked at an insulin pump company and Tuesday night, if you ask me about how I felt about my job I would have told you I have a career here. And, Wednesday morning, I was packing boxes-you know, taking my desk home. As much as I love everything I do, I also don’t take it for granted and I work my butt off every morning and every day just to make sure that I’m serving everyone the best I can. So, I think that’s important to recognize as well.

Christopher Snider: It is. I was just thinking, for a moment I had to think about which insulin pump company. I know which one you worked for but there has been a number that have gone away and that’s like a-

Scott Johnson: This was the Deltec Cozmo and this is so old and long ago that many people may not even remember that pump, so, anyway, Tidepool is doing some amazing things. You guys have been a part of my diabetes life for a long time and I would love for you to help those that may not understand what Tidepool is and is all about to tell them a little bit more.

Christopher Snider: Sure. So Tidepool is a non-profit organization. That’s the thing I get to say at the top of all of my schpeels because it is, like I have to be careful here because I don’t want to throw shade at for-profit ventures because there’s a lot of great work being done there but, there’s a special sort of connection that you can immediately generate when you say it’s a non-profit company. That’s a whole other Life of Scott we can get down as far as that rabbit hole. But, either way, Tidepool is a non-profit organization. Our mission is to make diabetes data more accessible, meaningful and actionable. This is accomplished through a number of different things, but the end result is a whole bunch of really smart… this cat, she’s just so fluffy. She’s demanding attention right now. She’s going to jump on this desk if I- look see the paw right here? This is the paw looking for attention. Hi Ernie. Oh my goodness.

Scott Johnson: I think it would make an amazing video for that cat to jump on your head or-

Christopher Snider: No, no. She’s going to jump and land on my keyboard and all of a sudden I’m going to- you know, share my screen. You’re going to see the clutter on my desktop right now.

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Christopher Snider: So, ultimately the end result of this mission and this effort is there’s a boatload of really smart engineers. We are a software company. We have a bunch of smart engineers that create the software to visualize and access your diabetes device data. What this means is that the diabetes data from your blood glucose meters, from your CGM, from your insulin pump- I’m going to rotate over here- here we go cat. All of that data can be visualized in Tidepool, together in one place. Am I allowed to use product names?

Scott Johnson: Yes.

Christopher Snider: So, the way I describe this is if you are wearing a Medtronic 630G, for example, but you’re using a Dexcom G6 continuous glucose monitor there’s no way to aggregate that data in a single place. If you wanted to see your insulin data next to your CGM data, you have to print out your clarity reports and print out your CareLink reports and hold them up to the light to see where things line up. With Tidepool, all that stuff can be uploaded in one place, together, and from there you can actually make more sense of your diabetes data.

Scott Johnson: Nice.

Christopher Snider: This works, as far as broader compatibility is concerned-
Ernie-hang on one second.

Christopher Snider: We support the entire Tandem Sweet, Omnipod, Medtronic, new stuff and old stuff, Dexcom G4, G5, G6, Libre, whole bunch of blood glucose meters. Literally today, we just shipped an update. As we’re recording this today, we shipped an update that has added support through the IQ Check Guide and Connect Meters.

Scott Johnson: Nice.

Christopher Snider: So, mySugr users might appreciate that one. Also, today-so that’s the general sort of uploading experience and interaction and if there were a share screen, I could show you what it looks like. Tidepool.org. It’s free for you to sign up. That’s the other thing I should have mentioned at the top. All the stuff I’m describing is free, which is cool. If you have questions about how it’s possible as a non-profit, we can get into that later. So, all that’s really great.

Christopher Snider: There’s a whole other side of things where: “Wait a second, I’m using my phone a lot to generate my diabetes data. My iPhone is my Dexcom CGM receiver. I’m using mySugr to generate, to record all my blood glucose data.” For example.

Christopher Snider: We issued an update to our mobile app, Tidepool Mobile. Available on iOS and Android but the iOS app specifically. We now offer the ability to upload blood glucose, insulin and carb data that’s stored in Apple Health to your Tidepool account. So, what this means specifically to all those monster tamers out there, I’m looking at you- oh hang on- you, watching this.

Christopher Snider: If you are wearing an insulin pump and you’re using mySugr to log your blood glucose data, you can put all that stuff in Tidepool now. You can upload all your mySugr data through your iPhone wirelessly. It happens in the background, you’re good to go. You can upload your insulin pump data and see everything together, in one place. This does not mean that you stop using mySugr. Full disclosure, I actually don’t use mySugr because I have reasons, but I understand the tremendous value that the engagement that mySugr offers to the diabetes community. For people that need that assistance, that need that motivation, that need that opportunity for engagement. It’s a tremendous, tremendous thing. For people that use mySugr, keep doing it. Upload it to Tidepool if you want. If you don’t, whatever it’s free. No harm, no foul. But the opportunity for all your data to be in one place, to continue to aggregate your data, to give you that access to your data. That’s what we’re about and that’s what this update is about. That’s one of the reasons why I wanted to come on here and chat with you live.

Christopher Snider: Yeah, that’s the general pitch, is that we’re trying to make sure that you have access to your data. The other thing, that is sort of the reason I’m wearing this shirt, that we can get into if you want to, but I’ll stop there and I’ll keep-

Scott Johnson: Yes. Let’s dive- let’s pause for just a little bit and dive into, like, I think it’s important for people with diabetes to have options. I think options are very important. I think that what’s right for one person with diabetes, may not fit another person with diabetes and it’s important for people to know that there are options available. So, I love the fact that you guys are helping enable so many more options for people to make it easier to pull all that data together, manage that data and help them have more empowered conversations with their healthcare providers when they go into their clinic visits.

Christopher Snider: I’ve got a UPS guy that I think is about to stop by. This is going to get real wild. Hang on a second. Actually, we can keep going because I think the puppy will actually let me know when he’s here.
He doesn’t know. So, I work from home, clearly because of all the cats but my office is in the front of the house so I can see when everybody is coming by. He has no idea what house he’s looking for. Oh, this is not what we came to talk about Scott.

Scott Johnson: We’re going to do whatever we do. I don’t know yet if I’ll leave it in or we’ll do some cool transitions.

Christopher Snider: You should totally leave it in. Choice is the big thing. I think that when you think about the big picture with diabetes it’s four-year contracts because these pumps have a long warranty period. It’s independent of the challenges of the cost of all this stuff, the cost of insulin; these are conversations that are very much worth having. Once we, while we are talking about this, we can still talk about- yes, there’s data on these devices. It’s your data, you should have unrestricted access to it. Tidepool believes in that. It’s your data and our job is just to be a vessel for you to access it unencumbered.

Christopher Snider: I’ve only been at Tidepool for two years. I guess I should mention I’m the community manager. I send the emails. I do the tweets and occasionally the Live with Scott’s. If you are a fan of Tidepool, if you follow Tidepool then you’ve seen my smiley face on the emails Yours in Data. I should have mentioned that at the top.

Christopher Snider: At the time when Tidepool was first got started, this is what I’ve gleamed from conversations with our CEO Howard Look. The position at Tidepool is very controversial, well not really controversial, it was just unheard of at the time. The fact that patients own their data and I believe that conversation has changed. I believe we have moved the needle forward. We as a community moved the conversation forward, not just Tidepool and it’s exciting to see what’s possible now once we get…

Christopher Snider: Everybody agrees, patients own their data from everybody. Once we establish that as a baseline then we have more advanced conversation about data ownership, data access, the potential of data, when you chose to donate it to research and things like that. There are all these other opportunities once we hopefully get on the same page of patients own their data. They should be in control of what happens next.

Scott Johnson: I think it’s also-kind of a tangent to that is, first and foremost, we at mySugr agree with you a hundred percent. That patients own..we..as me living with diabetes I own my diabetes data and I should be able to do with it whatever I decide is best for me living with diabetes. The other thing that I think is so frustrating about living with diabetes and dealing with diabetes devices; and you guys are helping with this a great deal is, it’s just so siloed in all these different devices. I describe how much I love all the devices that I use outside of my diabetes life.

Scott Johnson: So, I wake up in the morning and I check something on my iPhone. I can go downstairs and have coffee and I’m looking at the same- like a google document on my iPad and then I come to work and I’m working on the same document likings and all these transitions happen seamlessly. When it comes to diabetes devices, I have to enter the same piece of information on three or four different devices and it’s as dumb to me as Treadmills.

Chris Snider: Hang on one second. Leave it in. Just leave it all in. This is Miles Davis- y’all can’t see him but he’s adorable. He’s on Instagram. If you want to see his adorable face; he’s part Australian cattle dog, part bull dog. There’s Labrador retriever in there. There’s a chow chow. He’s got the big scrunchy face. He’s a good, good boy..

Scott Johnson: We’re going to need his Instagram channel for sure. That took a really long time from the driving around until getting to your house.

Christopher Snider: I think he had multiple packages to deliver, maybe. But at least one. I think it might have actually been Dale’s pump supplies.

Scott Johnson: Nice.

Christopher Snider: Which is good.

Scott Johnson: Yeah.

Christopher Snider: Anyway.

Scott Johnson: So all these diabetes devices, like they- so let’s think about treadmills for a second, right?

Christopher Snider: Okay. I’m going to walk with you on this one Scott. I’m going to trust you.

Scott Johnson: Nice. I like that.

Christopher Snider: Thank you.

Scott Johnson: Why do I need to tell the treadmill how much I weigh when I’m standing on it? Isn’t that how the scale works? Like, let’s just be smarter about things here. Right? Like-

Christopher Snider: Yeah, I hear you. I’m trying to figure out- like is this a grievance that you have, or

Scott Johnson: Yes. It is. These devices, our diabetes devices can be smarter. Treadmills can be- like it’s just a great example of devices being really dumb and our diabetes devices are very smart in most ways but they’re- like I hate how they’re so disconnected. It just makes no sense to me how parts of my day in my life can be so seamlessly interconnected and I feel like I bump into a diabetes device and it’s like it smacks me back into 1985.

Christopher Snider: So, I mean we’re going to express our privilege here but I’m rocking a t:slim X2. I’m running days like you. I love it. So I have my Dexcom data on. My pump is my Dexcom receiver. I still have to enter my blood glucose whenever I want to do something.

Scott Johnson: How do you feel about that?

Christopher Snider: It’s the routine. It’s a few button taps. I’ll deal. If I do want to think about it, it is kind of dumb but also it’s one less thing in my pocket. So, I’ll deal with the few extra button taps if I don’t have to worry about charging a receiver and my insulin pump at the same time.

Scott Johnson: That’s true. Yeah, I mean I’ll give you that. It’s true but I think that’s a-

Christopher Snider: It’s a clunky user experience that could be improved, especially on an insulin pump that is advertised to be the one that gets software updates. You’d think that that would be possible. Granted, they’re working on control IQ and other things coming down the road and I’m very hyped for that.

Scott Johnson: Yeah. I believe it’s all coming. We’re impatient. And I think we as people with diabetes we settle, we accept for normal. You know-

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Christopher Snider: I’m going to push back on that though because now that we’re on the inside I think that we have a better appreciation for why these things take time. Yes, they can happen faster. And at Tidepool I’m proud to say that we are moving the envelope as far as what digital software is capable of and how quickly we iterate and improve our stuff. Yay home team, that’s awesome but there still is a reason that the FDA does what it does. FDA is not the enemy. They are a partner in this with us. Kind of like the Tidepool loop. They are looking for the health and safety of American citizens. That’s what they do. They’re not a barrier. You have to be willing to engage with them. Tidepool engages early and often. That’s another Howard Look trademark right there.

Christopher Snider: I think being- we have the privilege of seeing things from the other side. So, yes we can still have the frustration. We can express that frustration as patients. Working at these companies at these organizations I think there’s a different sort of empathy that comes out of- empathy- no, we’ll call it empathy

Scott Johnson: Understanding, perspective

Christopher Snider: Perspective, yes. Exactly. And that mends itself too. It complicates our work because we can’t just be angry with them. It’s like: “Oh no there’s a process. We have to validate. We have to test.”
We issued an update on iOS; we need to make sure it works on the operating systems you claim to support, on the phones you claim to support, however, your testing mechanism works for that. For Tidepool software, right now, the data visualization is only Google Chrome but our uploader- our outputting software works on Mac and Windows, on a boatload of operating systems. So, we do an update, we have to test it on all those operating systems. We have a very efficient process. It’s getting more efficient, but it takes time to do it right, to maintain the safety and security of the people that are using our products.

Christopher Snider: I get it, it’s frustrating but I think there’s a reason it takes time because the opposite, if we don’t adhere to that, the adverse effects are- could be catastrophic. We’re talking about insulin here. Insulin, if mismanaged is deadly. There’s no joke there.

Christopher Snider: Right now we’re only talking about visualizing data. When we start talking about insulin dosing, it’s a whole other ball game and you have to be careful. You have to do it the right way. You can’t rush these things. That was my rant. I’m sorry.

Scott Johnson: That’s fine. Yeah. We’re good. I love it. I love where we’re all going with this stuff. I love that we have empowered passionate people inside of great companies, pushing to make things faster and working with organizations to help them better understand the needs of people with diabetes. These organizations are also helping us better understand the vast majority of people with diabetes. Not just the privileged, minority or the highly engaged, right? We also need to make everything safe and accessible as possible for those who may not understand diabetes as well as everybody.

Christopher Snider: Or that don’t have access to all the fancy toys. That’s a known gap in Tidepool’s device coverage. When you look at the devices that Tidepool supports and the meters that are offered by Medicaid and Medicare, there’s a gap there. We know about it and we’re not happy about it and we’re working to fix it. I think the very least we can do is acknowledge it and not run away from it so here I am. Hi, yep, you get it.

Christopher Snider: Before we announced Tidepool Loop to the world and we started our massive hiring spree, we took a hard look at our team page and there’s a lot of bald white dudes on the team and we weren’t happy with that and we made a state- we issued a statement to that effect on our hiring page and since then we’ve hired a boatload of people. Thankfully, not all of them are bald white guys and it’s- to add the diversity to the team that improves not only the quality of work but also the perspectives that are coming in to think about things that you don’t think about.

Scott Johnson: Yes.

Christopher Snider: I mean, it’s more than just gender or race. It’s all the life experiences and the more you can add to that diversity the better your product is going to be.

Scott Johnson: Absolutely.

Christopher Snider: And thankfully, we’ve grown tremendously since October. I think last I counted it was 22 of the 27 full-time employees we have, have a direct connection to type 1 diabetes.

Scott Johnson: Impressive.

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Christopher Snider: We have the patient experience covered by and large. We can do work to expand on the type 2 front and all these other things but when it comes to the broader patient advocacy perspective, Tidepool has got you covered there. But then, how are we thinking about the accessibility features with our iPhone and Android apps. How are we thinking about accessibility with Tidepool web on the computer. How can we improve those things? We’ve hired somebody, specifically, to help with that because there’s always more we can do but at some point, you have to figure out where to start.

Christopher Snider:  I’m rambling but I feel passionate about this stuff because I love the work that I do, and I think that- hopefully, that comes through.

Scott Johnson: It does. Absolutely. Absolutely.
Chris Snider: Cool.

Scott Johnson: And thank you for explaining and kind of giving us a peek inside the organization. I think what I’d like to do is bring you back on at some point to dive deeper into like Tidepool as a non-profit. To talk more about Tidepool loop and what you guys are doing there because both of those are super interesting to me. But, I want to offer the viewers a chance to decide whether they want to watch those as well. So, folks watching from home, let us know if you want to dive deeper into those topics as well and we’ll bring Christopher back on and chat some more about it too.

Christopher Snider: So, the cool thing is even if for some reason the viewers and monster tamers out there-all of you decide you don’t, the cool thing is that you can actually-for the ones who do, you can go and read all that stuff anyway. Our employee handbook is published openly, all of our code is open source. Everything we’ve talked about with Tidepool loop, which is-I’ll get to that in a minute, but everything about that-all of the conversations we have at the FDA, we published openly on our website. So, you can see what we say to the FDA and what the FDA says back. Open and transparent is part of our philosophy. First, and foremost, you own your data; that drives everything we do. After that, open and transparent is our thing. So, you can go to tidepool.org and figure that out, and read it. tidepool.org/loop.

Christopher Snider: Briefly, because I know we’re running out of time, is our mission our project to deliver an FDA regulated iOS app that will automate your insulin delivery. So, your iPhone will be controlling an insulin pump based off of CGM data coming in. If you’ve heard of the Do It Yourself Application Loop, the thing that you build yourself and you have to use a RileyLink in an old Medtronic pump. As of right now, only an old Medtronic pump. To do all of that stuff automatically with your iPhone, we’re going to take that and, more or less, put a Tidepool coat paint on it and it will work with in warranty devices that your doctor will prescribe. There’s a lot that I am glossing over there but tidepool.org/loop will give you finer detail beyond my rambling and musings but it’s safe to say it’s a really cool time to be us right now.

Scott Johnson: I agree with you. There are exciting things happening.

Christopher Snider: Not only an exciting time to be us, as in us Tidepool but exciting time to be us, people with diabetes on the receiving end of all the cool things happening.

Scott Johnson: Christopher thank you for taking some time out of your day and sharing your pets with us and we’ll get Miles’ Instagram page up there.

Christopher Snider: It’s just a lot of fun. I enjoyed catching up.

Scott Johnson: We’ll get you back soon and dive deeper. There’s just so much great stuff to talk about. So, one bite at a time right?

Christopher Snider: Yeah. Next time I come on I will show you my new pelican cases that I bought that need new stickers. So, I need to put a new mySugr sticker on there. There’s a blank canvas there.

Scott Johnson: We’d love that. And, speaking of that. So, Christopher is mentioning this pelican case because if there’s a conference or a trade show or any kind of diabetes event anywhere near you, there’s a good chance that you’ll see this guy at a booth or table there, representing Tidepool and you should go visit and meet him. Shake his hand. Get some Tidepool swag and enjoy learning and listening and taking in all that Christopher in person.

Christopher Snider: The goal is to actually empower other Tidepool team members to do that so I don’t have to travel all over the place so Dale doesn’t get mad at me. Dale doesn’t get mad at me but it’s difficult. I feel like I’m getting old now because I appreciate the opportunities that I have to travel for work but then I’m leaving behind my wife with her full-time job and this puppy and our two cats and all those other things. I’m very cognitive of the fact that travel is a luxury that I, you know- you think about flying to the West Coast and flying back to the East. You know, I can’t do it like I used to but, you know, you gotta do what you need to do to pay the bills but sometimes you have to learn how to say no or offer somebody else up who’s closer to the event. Generally speaking, the Tidepool experience is hopefully coming to the diabetes event near you. Whether or not I’m there, the stickers will definitely be there.

Scott Johnson: Well said, well said. Alright, with that I’m going to push the button here and thank you again.

Scott Johnson: Alright, there you have it. What did you think about that chat with Christopher? Let us know in the comments and as a special thanks to all of you watching, I have a fun mySugr tote bag with some goodies inside, like a pop socket, a few stickers, and I tracked down another autographed copy of Adam Brown’s Bright Spots & Landmines book that I want to give away. To enter, leave a comment below and before next week’s show, I will pick a lucky winner or two and announce them during the start of next week’s broadcast.

Scott Johnson: So, once again, today’s episode is sponsored by the mySugr bundle. Get unlimited strips, automatic supply refills, personalized support and more, all for just $49.00 per month. Learn more at mySugr.com/facebooklive.

Scott Johnson: Be sure to tune in next week where I catch up with world-renowned Yogi, with Diabetes, Rachel Zinman to talk about her journey with Yoga and Diabetes as well as her amazing book: Yoga for Diabetes. And folks, let me tell you, this book is one of the most beautiful books – you flip through this book and it’s full-color pictures and charts and I’m a big fan of it. Yoga is on the list of things that I’m interested in trying and learning and man, I need all the help I can get there because I don’t know, I have not tried yoga before. Anyway, we’ll get into all that next week. Thanks so much for joining today. Please like this video, share it with your friends. Have another amazing day and I’ll see you next week.


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