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Cary Talbot Talks Future Product Development and Customer Feedback

Director of Marketing for the Continuous Glucose Monitoring (CGM) business, Cary Talbot, leads an entire team focused on planning the development of future CGM systems. His team focuses on understanding our customers, their perspective on current products, and what they need to better manage diabetes. Cary shares insights into how customer feedback gets incorporated in the CGM product development cycle through his Marketing team’s activities.

Q. How are people with diabetes involved in the product development process?

A. Well, my team in marketing has two responsibilities – understanding and identifying our customer’s wants and needs, and communicating those needs to our research and development (R&D) teams so they can incorporate features that meet those needs into the development of new products. We first look to people with diabetes to identify and prioritize product needs by obtaining feedback through social media, surveys, phone calls, and emails, and observing and interviewing customers to better identify their daily diabetes management requirements. We then compile and prioritize the feedback (according to the customer), and determine how well our current products meet these needs. Finally, we identify which features are missing, or should be improved, partner with our engineers to start defining the next generation process.

Q. How do you choose which features will address the biggest customer need?

A. It’s a collaborative process between Marketing and R&D. Our engineering team is constantly exploring new technologies and visualizing better ways of doing things. When Marketing completes their research, we begin a series of discussions with R&D to educate them on the customer’s needs, and then map their latest technology to those needs to create new features. The best solutions come when we are working closely together, and we often come up with more than one idea to meet a customer’s need. Once these ideas are compiled, a team of cross functional experts assesses the challenges of implementing the ideas. Finally, the value of each feature is weighed against our ability to meet the customer needs by considering its design requirements and manufacturing needs.

Q. How do you find the individuals with diabetes to participate in these focus groups? Are there ways interested community members can get involved in the process?

A. Sometimes we approach a healthcare provider’s office, hire an outside agency to independently identify customers, or utilize our social media channels. We recently ran a Facebook post asking people in the diabetes online community if they were interested in participating in market research about their diabetes and diabetes devices. If they opt-in, they are added to our internal database, which is what we utilize most frequently. Our internal database consists of customers and other individuals who have diabetes, but are not on our product, who have given us permission to contact them. During the product ordering process, customers are asked whether they’d like to opt-in to receiving email communications from Medtronic. If they answer yes, they are automatically included in our database, and receive a welcome email.

Customers can always choose to opt-in by calling our Helpline and asking to update their communication preferences. Individuals who are not on our products, but would like to participate, can sign up here. We are always looking to build our database with a variety of different backgrounds and circumstances, so I encourage anyone who is interested to opt-in or sign-up.

Q. Was the development of the MiniMed 530G with Enlite included in this process?

A. Oh yeah, this process was absolutely used in the development of the new system. From the CGM perspective, during the early development stages, we gathered customer CGM system needs, and quickly saw a commonality around improved comfort and ease of use. For example, a prevalent need we gathered from customers was minimizing insertion anxiety. To address this, you’ll notice the Enlite serter has a much softer shape, is a much quieter insertion and completely hides the needle from view.

Q. What’s another exciting project your team is working on that utilizes customer feedback/needs?

A. We currently have a team working to understand customer needs around alerts and alarms for our CGM systems. Currently, customers receive alerts based on algorithms within the pump, but we are taking a step back and analyzing why customers may have initially wanted that alert, and if they can really do anything with that alert information. It leads us to create smarter alerts, and hopefully reduce the burden on customers by only getting their attention when it’s needed.

Q. I never knew this was part of the product development cycle. What else do you think customers should know about the product development processes at Medtronic Diabetes?

A. Medtronic is made up of people that choose to work here because they can help make a difference in other’s lives. Our mission is to help people that have diabetes live a full life, without being reminded that they have diabetes. In the past, we’ve focused on the first part of that – helping live a full life by delivering technologies that improve clinical outcomes. Now, we are starting to incorporate more of the customer’s voice in our product development, and are equally focused on delivering last part – without being reminded they have diabetes.

Q. Do other departments in Medtronic Diabetes use the customer feedback that you’ve collected?

A. There are many teams that utilize the information we collect. One less obvious example is our technical publications team, who write the product user guides. Understanding the customer need that drove certain features enhancements or developments helps them write instructions in a way so that the customer is able to understand the features functionality and purpose.

Our clinical team and engineers also utilize the customer feedback for conference presentations and educational sessions to help describe the reasoning behind product improvements. It really helps the doctors and nurses in the audience understand why we chose those enhancements, and what the changes mean for their patients.


Medtronic Diabetes insulin infusion pumps, continuous glucose monitoring systems and associated components are limited to sale by or on the order of a physician and should only be used under the direction of a healthcare professional familiar with the risks associated with the use of these systems. MiniMed 530G with Enlite is intended for the delivery of insulin and continuous glucose monitoring for the management of diabetes mellitus by persons 16 years of age or older who require insulin.

Pump therapy is not recommended for people who are unwilling or unable to perform a minimum of four blood glucose tests per day. Insulin pumps use rapid-acting insulin. If your insulin delivery is interrupted for any reason, you must be prepared to replace the missed insulin immediately.

The information provided by CGM systems is intended to supplement, not replace, blood glucose information obtained using a home glucose meter. A confirmatory fingerstick is required prior to making adjustments to diabetes therapy. MiniMed 530G with Enlite is not intended to be used directly for preventing or treating hypoglycemia but to suspend insulin delivery when the user is unable to respond to the Threshold Suspend alarm and take measures to prevent or treat hypoglycemia themselves.

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