It’s now day 11 of my tenure at the American Diabetes Association.
I could think of no better way to begin my time as CEO of the Association than to attend the 75th annual Scientific Sessions in Boston, Massachusetts! Boston was the place to be this past week! Truly so many of best minds and advocates in the mission to stop diabetes were in one place last week, and how lucky I was to be a part of this great meeting!
Though many called my first week on the job “baptism by fire” or “drinking from the fire hose”, I have to say… I loved it. I loved being able to meet so many key stakeholders. I loved the opportunity for you to ask me tough questions and for me to ask them back in return. And if I were to sum up my learnings in the past week, I would say these three things rose to the top:
- The diabetes community is truly a family.
I can’t tell you how welcomed my wife, Elizabeth and I felt as we met so many of you in Boston. You graciously made us feel at home right away by wanting to get to know us and going out of your way to make us feel comfortable in what you knew was a new environment for us. While some may call my recent appointment just a job, I know that I’ve joined a family. And what’s better than that?
It’s a family I observed that loves and takes care of each other. I heard one attendee say that she believed that if anything happened to her, diabetes related or not, she could call anyone in the room. I heard another attendee say that he often boasted of the communal environment he found among the researchers, differing from other fields. He said, “Those studying diabetes truly want to help each other.”
As the CEO, I celebrate all of this!
- Renewed Emphasis on Patient Advocacy
It has become clear to me after talking to many medical professionals and industry partners, there’s a real focus in the future on patient outcomes. We need to better ask the questions that begin what do those with diabetes truly need (not the other way around) and are we really moving the needle on improving the lives of those with diabetes.
I heard time and time again that the game has changed because of the Affordable Care Act and the whole industry is altering its course to live into this new reality.
Everyone I spoke to, including the scientists, shared with me their hopes that patients have the best care possible to improve the lives of those with diabetes.
I want you to know, I am listening and I am learning and I will continue to do so.
- Partnership is a key moving forward.
Because of the complexity of the disease we call diabetes and the wide array of stakeholders, there’s a thousand different reasons that we could approach the future in our own way. We could allow our differences in approach to define us.We could allow our varied uses of language to keep us from speaking to one another. We could undervalue contributions of our colleagues, assuming that working in our own sectors of influence is good enough.
But it’s a new day at ADA. And if there’s anything I want my tenure as CEO to be about it is partnerships. The pharmaceutical companies must talk to the patients. The advocacy groups must talk to the scientists. The doctors must talk to the families of the patients. Why? Because we are all in this together! Without understanding the full picture we cannot successfully move forward.
I believe all stakeholders can find levels of synergy with one another. It’s just up to us to find them and live into it.