Diabetes is not an easy disease to have. It’s physically taxing, it’s emotionally troubling, and the worst part, is that it can be financially crippling. Not only that, but it lives up to its disease category perfectly; it’s as chronic as chronic gets.
And because it’s so chronic, it’s all too easy to feel bogged down by the weight of its 24/7, 365 day a week nature. It’s incredibly challenging to take the time to zoom out, and see the big picture. But what if we were able to take a step back and look at our diabetes, say, like a business. There’s no doubt in my mind that we would immediately notice that there are processes and tools that we use that are a total waste of time. The efficiencies and cost effectiveness of virtually everything we do is a disaster. However, because we’re so “in it,” we don’t realize our potential to disrupt and improve our quality of care, our quality of supplies, and ultimately…our quality of life.
It also doesn’t help that we’re our own biggest allies. Type 1 diabetes isn’t hot on the top of people’s lists of diseases to make disappear. And of course it’s not a popularity contest when it comes to “supporting causes”, but yeah…we’re not a big player in this game. It also stinks that our current political climate is a downright sh*t storm at the moment. Things are obviously quite intense, and if I had to guess, we’re all struggling to keep up with what’s going on. Because there’s so much up in the air, fear and doubt in the future are at an all time high. The American Healthcare Act uprise was so fast and furious, I didn’t even know how to process what was happening until it had quieted down again. All I knew was that I was mad.
But if there’s any silver lining to this batch of freshly-baked “oblivious white man in ivory tower” triggered anxiety was that we have to start looking at each other to problem solve.
We can’t keep hoping and wishing to the corrupt, old rich dudes in Washington will hold our hands and comfort our troubles. The really only care about one thing and one thing only: the bottom line.
So…because I was feeling bummed out yet determined to find something to keep me focused on the positive change that despite the doom-like tone coming from our Nation’s capital, is still happening in the healthcare world, I started snoopin’ around. And in my hunt for happiness, I discovered a Canadian dude named Elliot Gatt, and his lil’ ol’ dream to stare the disastrous industry of diabetes test strips right in the face, then flip it upside down.
Elliot lives in Edmonton, Alberta, and is also a type 1 diabetic. Elliot is one of the kindest humans I’ve ever met (ok, fine, that might just be his Canadianness), but don’t let his sweet demeanor fool you. This guy is a warrior. Growing up, Elliot was always troubled by how much his parents, who are artists, had to pay for test strips. He was diagnosed with type 1 when he was 17 (just like me! twinsies!), and was old enough to see first hand the financial strain his supplies put on his mom and dad. After high school he became an insanely active (borderline crazy) person. His prioritization of good health and his adventurous spirit have pushed him to do some incredible things over the past few years including running a marathon in Iceland for Diabetes Canada, competing in an Ultra marathon in the Grand Canyon, and he’s done the Banff Suburu Series Triathalon. Oh! But that’s not all…Elliot is also biking across the country this summer with team BikeBeyond from Beyond Type 1 to raise money and awareness and I’m guessing just because he was bored and needed some more super casual physical activity to get involved in.
He may be nuts, but he’s also smart. Knowing that our health has always been at the mercy of the scary, expensive unknowns of big Pharma has never sat well with him. On hundreds of occasions he’s thought,
“Why, oh why, does it cost me anywhere from $1-$2 every time I test my blood sugar? Why am I being punished for something I didn’t do? Am I being Punk’d? Where’s Ashton Kutcher?!”
And even though Elliot had a nice, comfortable job in sales and product development, these questions continued to weigh on him. His idea to shake things up began to grow from an intellectual and philanthropic side-cramp to a full blown life-calling. This industry didn’t just need to be questioned. It needed to be punched in the face.
So…one fateful morning, Elliot woke up, probably kayaked or biked 100 miles, then said,
“I can’t keep waiting for major corporations to fix this. I have to do it myself.”
So he called a few buddies, and got to work. What resulted from this passion project is nothing short of a miracle. Introducing, GoodGlucos.
This amazing little company is the only one of its kind. Since it’s so rooted in Elliot’s personal journey and his ethical principal that healthcare costs. too. much. f*cking. money,
GoodGlucos is a monthly test strip subscription service that allows people to order insanely accurate meter, and super affordable test strips without a prescription. It also gives free test strips to people in need.
Plans start at just $25 for 50 strips.
The giving model for GoodGlucos was inspired by some of the big dogs like Tom’s Shoes, and Warby Parker. And the pricing model was inspired by one of my favorites, Dollar Shave Club. Michael Dubin, founder of Dollar Shave Club came up with his idea at a party – complaining with a friend about the borderline criminal price of razor blades that were being up sold so dramatically by major corporations like Gillette. He decided to make his own men’s grooming products, and sell them in a box…boom. Genius.
The giving model for GoodGlucose is very simple, but a little unique. For every 12 people that sign up for a subscription to GoodGlucos strips, the company gives someone in need 12 months of free GoodGlucos test strips.
“I call bullsh*t.” – The haters
Well, naysayers, I encourage you to shush and hear me out.
Just because something has been a certain way for decades, doesn’t mean it’s right.
In fact, it’s very, very wrong. It’s rough to accept being so painfully duped by brands we’ve depended on for so long, but it’s easier knowing that our diabetic spiderman (Elliot) has swooped in to save us from big Pharma purgatory.
As most of us already know, we do not actually need a prescription to buy test strips. We just have them written to them so that insurance will assist with some of the sticker shock. We also don’t need to be buying these crazy “on brand” strips because, spoiler alert: they all have similar if not identical technology. But because we’re ‘Mericans, we gravitate towards products with big fancy logos on ’em.
A vial of 100 name-brand strips can cost anywhere up to $200 dollars at major Pharmacies like Walgreens. That’s $2.10 per strip. You’re essentially paying a toll to be responsible. A big toll.
But Elliot Gatt has spoken, my dear friends. He has officially declared:
“NO MÁS, Y’ALL”
on the test strip industry. His model has you paying $0.35 per strip.
So how did GoodGlucos find a glucometer and strips that work just as well but doesn’t cost as much? Uh, telling big Pharma to go pound sand. Also phone calls to many a manufacturer. He called and he called. And he learned and researched and did a crazy amount of dirty work to discover the most accurate meter in all the land that he could use at a cost people would salivate over.
“In lab tests Good Glucos’s On Call Vivid glucometer outperforms. According to ISO standards, glucometers must provide accuracy that is close to what a laboratory would provide (+/-20% of the lab value). Good Glucos beats that with the glucometers we supply! Our glucometers are accurate to +/- 15% of the lab values. In fact, of all the major glucometers we tested (Accu Check Aviva, Accu Check Performa, Bayer Contour TS, Optium EZ, and TRUETrack) none of them outperformed ours!”
GoodGlucos also found a pricing model that allows them to make enough money off of your subscription, to give every 12th one away to someone in need. You can also change your subscription at anytime for a small increase in price. So if you’re stocking up for a vacation or something, you can easily adjust how many strippydips you get that month.
It’s a truly gluttonous treat.
Another thing that has been extremely important to Eliot while evolving GoodGlucos is the branding. I’ve complained about this for all 12 years of my diabetic life. The branding in our small little world totally stinks. Everything is clinical, and blue, and creepy, and weird. So Elliot and his team were like “Yo we gotta make this the raddest, happiest lil’ product you’ve ever seen so you’ll feel like a G when you whip out your gear for a test”
Annnnd, BOOM. Dope branding skillz activated:
But the most incredible part about GoodGlucos isn’t the groovy little meter or the cheap test strips, or the fact that, like everything hip these days, the whole set-up comes in a subscription-style box.
It that GoodGlucos helps people. It really, really helps people.
TOO MANY PEOPLE out there do not have what they need to live the quality of life they deserve. In Canada, 57% of the diabetic population is choosing to limit their diabetes care because of the high cost of strips. The government isn’t helping that, and big pharma’s greedy lil’ money paws are just profiting off of our broken organs. So I asked Elliot if he goes to bed at night smiling knowing that he’s on the hunt to destroy such a terrible access divide. To no surprise his answer was so adorably sweet and Canadian, “Wow, thank you. That’s really kind of you to say.” and I was like,
“Dude, you’re saving the world. You gotta know that! You’re literally like the diabetic Spider-Man!”
And he just….laughed at me. He finally agreed that he’d go to bed happy when he could see a bigger number of impact from the company distributing the free kits. In the start up world, a waiting for any sort of growth can be a painful process, especially when you’re in the business of helping alleviate one of the biggest health and socioeconomic issues in North America. But I have no doubt people all over the US and Canada will be writing thank you notes straight to Elliot Gatt’s front door in no time.
We’re getting there, you guys. And if not there, we’re getting somewhere. Good is happening all around us. Some people still are well-intentioned. And though Elliot admits that there are days where he can’t believe he’s living type 1 diabetes first-hand while fighting off the corporate greed that totally takes advantage of it, he know’s he’s starting a ripple effect of change. The reason why he knows it has so much potential, is because the movement was never intended to be political, it was intended to be human.
I will leave you with this, as proof. Whenever you question the integrity or the intention behind an organization like GoodGlucos, this is what is sewn into the fiber of the company:
“What I try to do when there are tough decisions to be made, is be the person I needed when I was first diagnosed at 17. I was so vulnerable then. I want GoodGlucos to be a safety net for people who are lost, and feel like there’s no one there to help them. We are here. And we will help.”
If you want to learn more about GoodGlucos, visit their website here.
If you feel that because of financial burden you’re experiencing right now, you qualify for test strip assistance, you can learn more about GoodGlucose “AlwaysGiving” here.
You can learn also learn more about the BikeBeyond team that’s kicking off their cross-country journey this coming Saturday here!