A Design Sprint for Diabetes Care Ideas
A workshop with cross-disciplinary teams drives solutions for user-centered diabetes care management: a visual story
It’s incredible what gets accomplished in one day when armed with a clear purpose and among people who are committed to collaboration. Through a one-day workshop sponsored by Roche and held at the co-creativity 5pace in Berlin, Dmitri Katz of ideas4Diabetes brought together data scientists, healthcare professionals, designers, researchers and very importantly – people with diabetes– some of whom fit the other categories mentioned here.
The goal of this action-packed, day-long workshop entitled “Improving Interaction with Data” was to bring people together to create truly innovative, real-time, actionable solutions for the actual challenges that people with diabetes face. This is significant because diabetes care involves managing, and ideally somehow logging, many factors such as stress, exercise, insulin, carbs, fats – all on an ongoing basis.
Attending two major digital health conferences in the Berlin area, Frontiers Health and HIMMS Europe’s impact 17, confirmed that diabetes care management is a top theme driving discussion about big data and patient-centered outcomes. More to come on that; follow along for upcoming recaps.
While some big names fuel diabetes care pilot projects , dedicated individuals use their own initiative to expedite out-of-the-box solutions, and one of these individuals is Dmitri Katz.
To kick off this event, Katz gave an overview where he conveyed how widespread diabetes is, and the challenges still left open by existing care management solutions. These hurdles include: too much effort in logging, no sense of benefit to the user, lack of continuous glucose monitoring (CGM)/lack of pump integration, negative feelings, and possible resistance from the medical community.
Startups like Lumind do provide elegant solutions for diabetics and see some other notable startups covered in the final ‘Takeaway” section. However the need to scale solutions is staggering: the World Health Organization (WHO) suggests that in 2014 already over 422 million adults have diabetes and it’s on the rise.
Since many people with diabetes are not satisfied with current care management solutions, or can bring their own perspective to the table, it’s worth generating more ideas.
On a Mission
Workshop participants then received their assignment:
Work within diverse teams that include at least one person with diabetes to iterate solutions for dealing with current challenges in diabetes management, specifically real-time decision making, intuitive interactions, and delivering key insights.
Katz advised the group not to rely on charts, graphs, or tables unless absolutely necessary. He encouraged everyone to ‘stretch into the ridiculous’ when conceptualizing new solutions.
Attendees broke into self-organized groups to come up with new ideas. Using a design sprint approach, participants formed teams with blended talents, who then defined specific challenges which included:
- How to deal with diabetes medication and supplies when traveling
- Regulating blood sugar during pregnancy for women with diabetes
- Creating engaging and educational solutions for children with diabetes
- Ongoing monitoring of blood glucose via alternative methods to blood, like saliva
Participants quickly jumped into a cooperative, creative process and the results were remarkable. The atmosphere was energized and focused as teams spent the morning problem-solving and doing initial mockups.
Pivoting & User-testing
At mid-day, groups gathered for workshop-wide feedback and some good grilling from Katz, who posed challenging questions to steer people into providing the most innovative and well-developed ideas. One of these questions was: “How do you build tools that people can build upon for themselves?” Participants pivoted their solutions and proceeded to user-testing mode.
Revising & Iterating
Armed with feedback, participants pushed their concepts further, and broke out the glue guns, modeling clay, and markers.
Final Presentations & Discussion
At the end of the day, teams presented findings to the entire group. Ideas had radically changed by end-of-day. Most solutions revolved around seamless or clever interactions with data, encouragement & advice, an ‘auto pilot’ attitude for diabetes, where solutions fit into lifestyle.
Take-Away: Develop Solutions with End-Users & Create Community
Solving for real aspects of diabetes by involving people with diabetes makes a both painfully-obvious and essential point: The people who give the best product guidance are those deeply familiar with why the product exists.
This type of leadership coming from people with diabetes is clear from the recent success of mySugr, an app which aims to optimize diabetes management by helping people tracks diabetes data and provide them decision-making support.
One social space that is making a big contribution to the online diabetes community is called #dedoc. It’s an open blog based in Germany that bundles tweets from people with diabetes to share knowledge and maintain a meeting point for people with diabetes.
Berlin-based startup xbird is an interesting player in the B2B space on diabetes. They use mobile technology and AI for early detection of diabetes symptoms and to address the problem of people with diabetes having to log so much data.
There is still time to sign up for upcoming ideas4Diabetes events! No matter what skill set or personal experience you bring, go for it.