I’ve brainstormed 3 potential ideas for a final project. They all target diabetes as a user group. Yet I hope the final system design could be applicable to other chronic condition patients.
1. Emergency Glass
My first idea is focused on the emotional issues that a lot of patients have living with a disease. This seems to be a major theme of most community sites, venting the frustrations and annoyances of the condition. For example, I’ve seen diabetes patients write messages talking about how they just wanted to eat a bag of potato chips. They know this in a good thing to do and it is not something they have done in years.
The icon of this system would be a hammer to break the emergency glass on a train or subway. The system would use a mobile app to write or making an audio recording detailing your frustration right when it hits you. Once you are done, you could decide who to share it with. You could save it as private or send it to your doctor. The third option would send it to 2 close contacts that you have pre-entered. It would send a message to their mobile phones with the intent of getting them to reply right away. In this way, the system in some ways to groups like Alcoholics Anonymous. While I do not claim to be an expert on AA, I do believe it is one of the most successful models for behavior change. Plus it has succeeded for decades without any of the technology options available today.
Additionally, this type of system would generate valuable data on patients. Follow-up applications could address the most common problems and complaints made by users.
2. Nutritional Crowdsourcing Database
Another idea would build upon a nutritional system that I designed this summer for a diabetes competition. It would create a platform for crowdsourcing nutritional information first across the City and then later across the U.S. and the world.
Diabetics need to determine carb totals of food in order to accurately dose their medication. Chain restaurants typically publish all their nutritional information, so looking up the carb total of a Starbucks chicken sandwich is not a problem. But what about your local diner? This system would allow users to post estimates for each dish. After multiple people made estimates, the system would average the totals and provide a somewhat accurate estimate.
3. Databetes 6
This is the idea which I am most likely to adopt as my final project.
Goals: Databetes 6 is a mentor network and disease management system for diabetes patients. We help patients improve their condition control through a careful balance of educational resources, emotional support and technology services.
Databetes 6 is unique in allowing users to build a personalized support circle of up to 6 fellow patients. Within this trusted circle, you can ask questions, share your joys and frustrations or trade educational information. Each member benefits from the team’s accumulated wisdom of living with diabetes. Consider them your inner circle, a perfect sized support group for managing the everyday challenges of living with diabetes.
Behaviors: Databetes 6 requires users to do only one thing a month. On the 1st of every month, we ask, “How was diabetes management last month?” Answers are shared among a patient’s small support group. The other 5 members of the circle can respond with encouragement and suggestions. (Patients who do not answer this mandatory question for 3 months in a row have their account disabled).
Patients are then presented with an optional second question. It asks “What is your diabetes goal for this month?” They can select from a drop-down list with a options created by the Databetes team. In choosing a goal, Databetes then provides a list of services and methodologies to help the patient achieve that goal. For example, if a patient wants to better manage their daily carbohydrate intake, Databetes would provide a system to help achieve this this goal.
This system would thus be extremely simple for new users. It would allow us to guide patients to slowly build the number of behaviors achieved each month and further improve their control.
Journey and Context: Databetes 6 mentor network would allow knowledge to flow between patients. With patients able to access their doctor approximately 2 hours a year, new forms of support are clearly needed. Databetes 6 aims to provide a solution free of the “noise” of community blogs. These blogs are often dominated by a small percentage of the users who post a large percentage of the comments.
In particular, Databetes 6 would allow the newly diagnosed to learn from those experienced in living with diabetes. To achieve this goal, Databetes would recommend a support circle be composed of 3 patients living with diabetes for less than 10 years and 3 patients living with diabetes for 10 or more years. Our system would recommend patients to users who may not know enough people to complete their circle. These recommendations would be based on location, shared interests or shared treatment methods.
In limiting a support circle to 6 people, each user would feel a sense of personal responsibility to others in their group. As such, patients would get responses more quickly and more often.
Test: Diabetes is a quantifiable disease. Daily blood sugar readings along with quarterly A1c blood tests tell whether patients are maintaining good control or not.
A reputation system would record how many times a patient has helped another patient, how long they have been living with diabetes, their most recent A1c reading and their areas of knowledge (for example, using an insulin pump). As such, Databetes would know whether someone is contributing to the community and whether their feedback was deemed helpful and trustworthy by other patients.