At the end of the day, we want and expect all the diabetes products we use to work. We are blessed with the fact that there are people out there who make that happen. They design pumps to deliver insulin 24 hours a day, customized to each persons particular body rhythms. They engineer recombinant dna insulin to make the insulin we take the same genetic makeup of human produced insulin. They design implantable sensors that read our bloodsugar's every 5 minutes so that we can see the way they are trending, thereby allowing us to make more accurate decisions than ever before. Our lives are significantly better because of the way these scientists and engineers see the world and the work that they do.
But there is something missing between the amazing work they do and me, the patient, the user, the consumer. These products are designed to make my life better, more livable day to day, more "normal" if you will. They are designed to help me keep my diabetes under the best control possible to avoid longterm complications, but right up there with that goal, is the idea that diabetes should not "limit" my ability to live a full life. A healthy life. It's possible right? That's what the doctors and nurses and literature all say and yet, when I look at all the diabetes products I use every day, I feel like I'm being told something very different. When I look at the way the pump sets and test strips and the glucose monitors and the needles and the alcohol swabs are designed, packaged and graphically communicated, I feel like I'm being told that I am sick. Use all this MEDICAL stuff designed for sick people, and you can live a healthy, normal life. Everything I touch and encounter around diabetes says clearly, loudly, that I'm sick.
And of course I am, in the sense that I have a chronic illness, and especially if I don't take care of myself. Unlike other diseases, I can manage my disease best if I thoroughly integrate it into my life, normalize it, and accept it. Imagine how much easier that would be if all my touchpoints around my care weren't screaming at me that I was sick. Imagine if the packaging was more normal or special or even reverent. Apple is a perfect example of what I mean. Everything, and I mean everything, is considered. Every touchpoint, every package, brochure, website, service. Every time I encounter the brand, I'm reminded that they care. They know that everything they make communicates something about their brand, their desired relationship with me as a consumer, and quite frankly, how much they value me. Whether it's true or not, their aesthetic, packaging and attention to detail, communicates that they value and respect me as a consumer. Enough to sweat the design details. Because the details really matter. Apple shows that the job isn't done when the amazing technology is complete. They show that there is a lot that can be considered and designed between the technology and the people.
So my question to all the companies that make all the diabetes products I use, what are you telling me? Whether you mean it or not, you are communicating something. Are you saying I'm a sick person who needs to be communicated to like a medical patient? Or are you saying I am I a healthy and fully whole person who happens to be living with diabetes? I would offer up that depending which answer is chosen, the design brief for all the wonderful stuff the scientists and engineers have made to make life with diabetes better, would be very different.
And, PS. Of all the companies doing diabetes medical design, I really do like Novolog's look. Simple, streamlined, modern, adult and not pandering. It still feels medical but at least it's groovy medical. My 2 cents, for what it's worth.