This week, I simplified my experiment and lowered the technical barriers. I still focused on creating a photo logging system for diabetics. It aims to create a fast and easy system for remembering what you ate and the relevant carb counts. Since everyone is creatures of habit, I strongly believe that most people have a limited amount of meals that they cycle through at home or at restaurants. In the future, I want to be able to connect these meals, the medication dosage and the resulting blood sugar readings. This “meal memory” system could allow people to save and recall their information for more accurate dosages and better blood sugar control.
I think taking photos is a nice small step because it is quick. Plus, I think these photos jog the memories of patients later when they are sitting with their doctors, trying to sort out an unusual episode. Additionally, it gives a doctor a basis for a judgement on whether the patient is accurately counting their carbs or needs more education.
A total of four diabetic patients took part in my experiment (including me). For one week, they were asked:
- to take a picture of their food/drink
- count the carb total
- e-mail or sms the photo to me
- provide an optional description
I believe these actions all fall within the “Span” time categorization and either the Green or Blue category on the behavior grid. None of the steps are unfamiliar or new, although completing the entire process is.
In general, the patients who already control their diabetes tightly also performed well in this experiment. Those with less strict oversight of their condition sent in less photos (or none). Here are the links to the logs:
Patient 4 did not send any photos
Patient #1 raved about the idea after seeing the Google Doc spreadsheet I made. She likes the idea of being able to eat what you want but also being able to keep your blood sugars under control because the meals have all been well documented.
That patient did better than me when it came to recording information. I often thought about taking a photo after I had already eaten. But for me, part of the value in the program is recording a meal once. For example, I usually eat the same breakfast every day because I know the related dosage and how it will affect my blood sugar.
In general though, I believe there is a place for this type of thinking in the diabetes market. I think one of the things people get held up on is these exact measurements. What does 2 cups of this look like? How much is 1/3 pounds of that? But with this system, a bowl with this much salad would equal this much insulin. While not precise, practical and effective. Hard to argue with that, if you ask me.