The most important part of any relationship is trust. The relationship between a person with diabetes and their insulin pump is no different – it has to be built on trust. People with diabetes trust their pump with their lives. They trust that their pump will deliver insulin as it is supposed to. They trust that if they ever have any problems with their pump, the pump company will do what it takes to make it right as quickly as possible. They trust that their pump company will stay in business.
Last Friday afternoon, Asante Solutions, sent the following message to everyone who uses the Snap insulin pump:
We regret to inform you that as of Friday, May 15, 2015, Asante Solutions, maker of the Snap Insulin Pump, will be closing our doors and the company will no longer be in business.
With this message, Asante put a new twist in how we think about insulin pumps and trust. In recent years, most people have never even thought that their insulin pump company would suddenly shut its doors. That changed last Friday.
This announcement caught everyone off-guard and has spurred a lot of discussion in the diabetes community about why Asante is closing its doors and what exactly it means. It has also caused a sense of loss among people who use the Snap pump. For me the question is, how does the closing of Asante change the relationship between their person with diabetes and his or her insulin pump? Only time will tell, but here are a few thoughts.
If you feel upset, let down or even betrayed by the news from Asante, you’re not alone. I think it’s really important to recognize how you feel and that this is a legitimate, and normal, reaction. For many people who wear an insulin pump, their pump becomes a part of them (after all, it is attached to their body most of the time) so finding out the pump you have become used to wearing is going away may cause a sense of loss and for some people, a sense of broken trust. However this loss is more than just that of an insulin pump, but also a sense of loss around what Asante stood for. People were exited about Asante. They were excited not only about the Snap pump itself, but also for the sense of innovation, energy, and excitement they brought to the insulin pump market. With Asante no longer, there is a sense of loss about this vision, and a worry that this type of innovation can’t survive. It is a sense of loss on many levels, a loss that some people will need time to grieve.
Does what happened with Asante change the way that people with diabetes look at their relationship with their insulin pump, and the trust they need to feel to fully commit to this relationship? It may be too soon to tell, but let’s consider it for a moment. People usually go to great lengths to avoid loss in a relationship that is important to them. When someone has experienced a sense of broken trust in the past, especially if it happened recently, their guard will be up. It might make people ask tougher questions and do more research on the financial strength of the pump companies they are considering. Some people may not be ready to get into another relationship so quickly, so they may take a break from pumping. Even people who were not directly affected by the closing of Asante may have questions, and possibly some anxiety about their own pump and how they will choose their pump in the future. The impact will be different for each person, but it certainly puts a new twist in the equation of the relationship between people with diabetes and their pumps.
So where does this leave us? With Asante no longer around, but with what happened still fresh in many people’s minds, this puts an additional responsibility on the remaining pump companies, both to existing customers and to people who used Snap and are now in the market for a new pump. The other pump companies now have to work to rebuild the trust that was broken when Asante went out of business. They need to proactively show their existing customers and prospects that they are in this business for the long haul. They need to recognize that people who were let down by Asante may be a bit weary to jump right in with a new pump. They need to be proactive and patient and go above and beyond to make that all their customers feel safe, not only because their insulin pump works properly, but also because the pump company will continue to be around.
Even though many people are feeling a sense of profound loss, let’s not forget how the diabetes community is better off because of Asante. Asante gave people an assurance that innovation can happen, and happen quickly and they demonstrated a willingness to push the envelope and think outside the traditional pump therapy box. Even though many people are mourning their loss and dealing with some difficult emotions, let’s not forget what Asante did for the diabetes community, and do what we can to make sure that their spirit, and sense of innovation lives on.
*Disclosure: The author of this post has worked as a paid consultant to Asante Solutions and has used the Snap insulin pump.