Ellen Ospelt BS, RN, CDCES: Sr. Clinical Educator for Bigfoot Biomedical

by Bigfoot Biomedical,
August 16, 2021

In my role at Bigfoot, I ensure our coaching programs successfully prepare and support people with diabetes and their health care professionals to use the Bigfoot Unity Diabetes Management System through an engaging and simplified learning experience.    

My thought has always been:  Living with diabetes should be exactly that -- living with diabetes. It should not be diabetes living for you. Learning how to live your best life with diabetes has been my cornerstone for care. 


Tell us a little bit about your background, why did you decide to become a nurse?

I’m a third-generation nurse. My mother and her mother were nurses, and I’m excited to share that my daughter is going to be the fourth generation of nursing in my family! 

I have been a nurse for nearly 30 years. For the last 20 of those years, I have really focused on diabetes -- both prevention of diabetes and management of diabetes. It is my passion. 

When I first began educating patients, there were so many patients who had gaps in understanding of what diabetes was, how to manage it or the basics of “what do I need to do on a day-to-day basis to be healthy?” I felt like so many patients were never told exactly the how or why of diabetes management. Knowledge is power. And listening, hearing, and applying that education into the way the patient lives his or her life makes all the difference.

Diabetes doesn’t define someone, but it is necessary to acknowledge the disease and how to live your best life while living with the disease. That continues to be my goal as a nurse and educator, to help others understand so they gain their own personal power. 


It’s a huge plus to have so many health care professionals on the Bigfoot Biomedical team. What does being an RN bring to your role at Bigfoot?

Nurses are dedicated to caring for others and developing plans of care dedicated to who they are serving. Having the RN background and being part of the development of patient and clinical training materials gives a different insight on patient-centered care practices. 

For example, developing materials that recognize challenges with health literacy by using simple, plain language instead of medical jargon to ensure that the patient is reading something that is understandable. This includes looking at how we use diabetes terms like “active insulin.” We need to make sure we have support -- including resources and talking points -- that can help those who are brand new to these terms and those with varying levels of diabetes literacy. 

Another key point is always adding the WHY. Understanding from the patient’s perspective “what’s in it for me and why is this important for me to know?” helps with application and engagement. Our goal as a company is to keep Bigfoot Unity in the patient’s day-to-day practices. We want it to be a solution that can ease the burden of diabetes. If the patient doesn’t understand what we are teaching and training, or how it is important for them, most likely they will not apply it into their day-to-day practices. 


What are some of the challenges for patients with setting up and learning how to use a new medical device? What is Bigfoot doing to overcome those challenges?

I think the main challenge for patients is not having control. Whenever someone learns something new, it takes time not only to learn the new device but also time to understand how to apply the learning. It often includes uncertainty about how to apply that learning into the day-to-day practices of managing diabetes. This uncertainty can lead to fear, stress, or worry and may even cause someone not to move forward due to these barriers. 

Bigfoot is dedicated to using Certified Diabetes Care and Education Specialists (CDCES, formerly CDE’s) to do remote one-on-one training with each prescribed patient. The credential of being a Certified Diabetes Care and Education Specialist is an important tool to show expertise in diabetes care and education. We are hiring nurses and dietitians with decades of experience in training and education to help alleviate emotions and focus on understanding gaps, barriers, and opportunities to ensure safe and successful product use. 

The training begins with time to get to know each other -- time for the prescribed patient (and caregiver) to ask questions and to share how they are currently managing diabetes and what goals they have related to diabetes and using the Bigfoot Unity System. For example, one recent patient always forgot to take long-acting insulin, so hearing that person’s challenge, our trainer was able to highlight how Bigfoot Unity, with an alert that a long-acting dose may have been missed, could be a great support. Our trainers are certified to Bigfoot Unity and are product experts. They can listen, learn, and apply the patient’s information to how Bigfoot Unity can help with day-to-day practices. 


What’s important about Bigfoot Biomedical’s approach to patient education & training? 

Every person learns in a different way. For example, some are visual learners (learn by seeing), some auditory (learn by hearing) and others tactile (learn by touching or doing). Bigfoot’s approach to patient education and training, incorporates all types of learners into our learning platforms. Our training program includes videos, learning content, knowledge checks and a training simulator to support understanding. 

We believe the Bigfoot Unity System will be a great solution for many people with diabetes – even those who have different understandings of diabetes, histories of living with diabetes and different goals on how best to manage their diabetes. Whether the patient is new to device technology, new to insulin therapy, or new to continuous glucose monitoring, our training team is ready to help them get started with Bigfoot Unity. We stand by our motto of “who we train, determines how we train.”  


How does Bigfoot’s focus on simplicity, convenience and ease-of-use come to life during the patient training and education experience?

Bigfoot Biomedical was founded by three dads struggling with managing diabetes for their children. They saw the barriers to day-to-day practices and wanted something simpler. My thought has always been: Living with diabetes should be exactly that -- living with diabetes. It should not be diabetes living for you. Learning how to live your best life with diabetes has been my cornerstone for care. 

The Bigfoot Unity System is a solution that aligns with my teaching intentions. It is designed to be simple to use and fit into the day-to-day practices of those living with insulin-dependent diabetes! It’s so convenient to literally hold in your hand a smart pen cap that scans for glucose readings and also recommends an insulin dose based on those glucose values and information from your doctor entered into the Bigfoot Unity mobile app. No need to go looking for a meter or a reader. You already use your insulin pen to dose your insulin, so it’s easy for the Bigfoot Unity smart pen to fit into that existing daily management practice. 


What about Bigfoot Biomedical is exciting to you?

First and foremost, I believe in Bigfoot! What excites me the most is that my personal mission to support, guide and care for those with diabetes aligns with Bigfoot’s vision and mission. We all want to make diabetes simpler and reduce the day-to-day burdens of living with diabetes. That has always been my guidestone as a nurse and Certified Diabetes Care and Education Specialist. It’s fun to be with a company that is dedicated to making life easier for others! 


How do you spend time outside of work? What re-energizes you personally?

I am blessed to be married to my husband of more than 20 years, and a mother of three children. We are a dog-loving family with two dogs that keep us busy. I love to garden, entertain family and friends, and play any type of card game. Relaxing to me is sitting by Lake Erie and reading a book. And maybe paddling out on a kayak or dropping a fishing line. Being by water is my favorite place -- a creek, pond, lake or ocean -- let me explore it! 

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