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Dear Animas

Sent today via their website:

"Dear Animas,

I wanted to contact Animas about an unfulfilled opportunity on their part. I am part of the diabetes blogging community and a user of the Animas Ping. I had my daughter 3 months ago and started using the Animas Ping prior to and during my pregnancy to get better control for my health and my baby's health during the pregnancy.

I like the Animas Ping and am much more satisfied with it compared to the pumps I was using several years ago. They were so bad that I went back to daily injections and was much happier for a time WITHOUT an insulin pump. Currently, I am so satisfied with the Ping that, for now, I have decided to continue using it despite my pregnancy having ended. That being said, I still believe that there is A LOT of room for improvement. Perhaps there are technical reasons for certain flaws that I've found with the Ping. But there are so many (what I see as) simple changes that could be made that would HUGELY improve my experience with this product.

This is where I see an opportunity on your part. I have recently read about many of the members of the diabetes blogging community who attended the Medtronic Diabetes Advocate Forum. And, longer ago, the Roche Summit. Medtronic and Roche invited them to attend a conference not only to educate them on their products, development and upcoming technologies but also to get their feedback on what could be done on their part to improve their service in areas like marketing, product features, improvements and customer service. They are showing that they understood the importance of gaining feedback from their users and that they find value in our perspective. The diabetes community has a big voice. We are strong-minded and outspoken about how we care for ourselves and what we expect in our treatment modalities. And we can easily see through attempts to manufacture products for our treatment by individuals who don't know our disease. (In fact, I feel like the Ping is largely focused toward the child pump-user and as an adult pumper I'm wondering why there aren't more features for me!)

If efforts are already being made by Animas to organize a seminar for their users then I am not aware of it and I want to say "Kudos!" to you. If not, I would like to strongly suggest that you consider inviting a sampling of your pump users to a conference that would provide an opportunity for an open back-and-forth between company and client. I know that for me there are so many times throughout the day when I think to myself, "Ugh! Why does this pump do THIS when it would be so much better if it did THAT?" Or something along those lines. These thoughts extend not just to Ping but also to the management software (ezManager Max) and the infusion sets, packaging and accessories that go with it.

I'm sure that I'm not alone in my desires for certain tweaks and adjustments in the current products offered by Animas. I also have a feeling that most Animas pumpers tend to run into the same issues and annoyances with the Ping. So I think that providing a forum for discussion with a sampling of Ping users would be invaluable for both the diabetes community of pump users as a whole and for Animas. And, for my part, I would be very interested to hear the process behind development and why perhaps things aren't as easy to change as I might think. And even get answers to my questions about certain Ping features, ie "why in the world would they design it like THAT?"

For example, during my pregnancy I had 3 basal programs. One for work, one for at home and one for my pre-pregnancy rates so that I could store them for after I delivered. However, since the Ping doesn't allow you to label your basal rates I had to store these rates under the pre-programmed names of "weekday," "other," and "weekend." It seems to me that being able to label my own basal programs would be an obvious and simple fix but, who knows? Maybe not. There are several small issues like this and other larger issues that I have concerns about. And I would like to know that Animas knows about these concerns and is making an effort to address them.

So many of your competing companies that manufacture technologies and supplies for the diabetes community (including Medtronic and Roche) are finding the value in a face to face exchange between them and their users. I do hope that you would consider hosting a handful (or more) of your Ping users at forum for discussion between you and us. In the meantime, if I can provide any additional information or be of any further assistance to facilitate this, please do not hesitate to contact me. I really look forward to the opportunity to sit down with representatives from Animas and share my story and I'm sure that there are many others who would relish this chance as well.

Layne Petrino
Type 1 Diabetic and insulin pumper, diagnosed in 1991"

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