Doug Kanter

Databetes helps patients with diabetes improve their health through data and technology.

Databetes is an online platform providing self-management support to diabetes patients. The average patient sees their doctor just two hours a year. Our system is designed to help patients when they're on their own make better decisions based on their data. Patients can import both medical readings from devices such as blood glucose monitors and also lifestyle data such as nutrition and exercise information. Combining these types of data helps contextualize the readings, making it easier for patients to understand their blood sugar changes and adjust their treatment accordingly.

As a type-1 patient myself, I tested my ideas throughout 2012 by closely tracking my own diabetes. As a result, 2012 was the healthiest year of my life.

I have already gathered a year's worth of self-tracking data including about 100,000 medical readings (blood sugar levels and insulin dosages). I kept a description of all my meals, including carb counts. I often photographed my food and used FourSquare checkins to remember restaurants. I tracked my exercise with GPS apps and a heart rate monitor. I used a FitBit and a Nike FuelBand. I trained for and ran a marathon. I used OpenPaths to record my movements. I also blogged about my experiences of being a patient at

Now, I am cleaning up the data, building out the website demo and developing a mobile app. I need to complete the data analysis and design ways of make better use of this information. I also need to visualize the data.

Patients with diabetes

I have produced three products. The first is a mobile application that aggregates nutrition and blood sugar data. The second is a web-based demo of a self-management support system aggregating a variety of medical and lifestyle data. The third is data analysis and visualization of some of my 2012 readings.

My experience in 2012 shows clearly that more effective uses of data are a path to better health. Designing health apps is tricky and needs to take into consideration multiple types of users with varying degrees of motivation. Yet I believe Databetes' focus on both technology and design is a more effective solution to help in the day-to-day management of the condition. The system we have developed so far and the experience we have gained in building it is a solid foundation for products that give patients actionable information to help them make better decisions throughout the day and improve their health.