CEO of Tandem Diabetes Care to Deliver Keynote at MD&M West

Posted by Brian Buntz on December 20, 2012

With the debut of the iPhone in 2007, Steve Jobs proclaimed that Apple had reinvented the phone. That proved to be no idle boast, despite predictions that the smartphone would flop. Now, five years later, it is hard to argue that Apple succeeded in making smartphone technology substantially “smarter” and easier to use than the then current generation smartphones. One of the most striking features of the iPhone then, as well as now, is its design and the prominence of the touchscreen. Rival phone makers went on to follow a similar pattern in product lines from that point on.

The influence of the iPhone can be felt, too, in the medical device sector. One of the best examples is the t:slim Insulin Delivery System whose design has been called ‘Apple-esque.’ Developed by Tandem Diabetes Care (San Diego), the device was cleared by the FDA late last year, making it the first insulin pump to have a color touch screen. When it debuted, the device, which has the footprint of a credit card, was 25% smaller than competing products. 

One of the most remarkable things about the t:slim's design is that Tandem Diabetes Care gathered insights from more than 4000 patients, caregivers, and healthcare professionals when developing the product. Contrast that approach with Apple's. According to the company's senior VP of worldwide marketing, Philip Schiller, proclaimed that Apple "[doesn't] use any customer surveys, focus groups, or typical things of that nature. That plays no role in the creation of the products." 

Kim Blickenstaff
Kim Blickenstaff

Following the device's FDA clerance, Tandem Diabetes Care’s CEO Kim Blickenstaff said in a press release that the "clear message" the company heard from their focus group research was to 'make [the insulin pump] cool and make it uncomplicated to use. Give us access to the most advanced features without extra effort.'  

Blickenstaff will discuss his company’s approach to product design at MD&M West in Anaheim, CA on February 12, 2013. It should be interesting to hear how the company is inspired by the tech sector, which is known for rapid iteration, while addressing regulatory and reimbursement matters.  

Those are topics well known to Blickenstaff. Before taking the head position at Tandem Diabetes Care in 2007, he served as chairman, CEO of Biosite Inc., a diagnostic firm he cofounded. In June 2007, the company was acquired by Inverness Medical Innovations for $1.8 billion. He has also served on the board of directors for healthcare companies such as SenoRx and MediVation Inc. 

Brian Buntz is the editor-at-large at UBM Canon's medical group. Follow him on Twitter at @brian_buntz