Continuing our series of interviews with the patient voices contest winners who will be attending the 2015 DiabetesMine Innovation Summit in November, we're excited to feature a D-Mom from Ohio who's actually pretty new to the diabetes world.
Julie Crawford's 9-year-old son Sam was diagnosed last year, and almost immediately she recognized that her mobile health options were limited.
What Julie wanted was a way to loop in all the people helping to take care of her son's diabetes, but nothing like that seemed to exist. So she set out to create her own solution.
The Type1D App that resulted may very well be the first collaborative app of its kind available for both iPhone and Android once it's ready for release by year's end. Julie and her team recently launched a Kickstarter crowd-funding campaign to get this new app off the ground.
Mike was excited to meet Julie and her business partner Shad Ayoub recently at the Friends For Life conference in Orlando, where they showcased Type1D for the first time with a display table on the exhibit hall floor. (See our FFL conference coverage here).
Today, we dive deeper into Julie's story with this Q&A...
DM) How did your son's diabetes journey begin?
JC) My 9-year old son was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes on Halloween Day of 2014. He is a healthy, active child and was just in a soccer tournament the weekend before diagnosis. For several days he seemed very thirsty and was going to the bathroom more frequently. Having an RN background, I knew immediately that those were classic signs of diabetes and took him to the doctor right away.
The idea for the Type1D app literally came to me the in the middle of the night just a day after Sam’s diagnosis, as I was searching for apps to help us manage and track his care.
Wow, and that Type1D app is actually the life hack you submitted to our Patient Voices Contest, right? Tell us more about that...
As we were in the hospital during Sam’s diagnosis, I began searching for apps to help manage his diabetes care. Even with the abundance of apps in the App store, I couldn’t find exactly what I was looking for – an app that allowed myself and Sam’s various caregivers (babysitter, school nurse, friends and family) to be on a unified platform. My own hospital agreed there was not a comprehensive app for families that had an insulin calculator, connected with the caregivers, and had a simple-to-use interface and setup process.
I turned to two friends who have software development experience, and they saw first-hand the frustration I was experiencing. They quickly turned the “team diabetes” app concept into a prototype. In a short amount of time, parents, physicians, endocrinologists and other healthcare providers from around the country found out about us and began participating in surveys and feedback discussions further validating our concept. We are at an exciting phase in our development, having launched a Kickstarter campaign on July 7 that runs for 30 days in order to raise funds necessary to meet our timeline of launching both iOS and Android platforms by the end of the year.
Sounds similar to what MyCareConnect offers with BlueLoop, an app also created by a pair of D-parents. How is yours different?
BlueLoop is probably the closest comparable app on the market. That was one of the apps I downloaded in the hospital following Sam's diagnosis, but it lacked key features that I felt were important. It does have the caregiver feature which other apps to do not have, but here are just a few of the differences:
- The Type1D account can be set up via the app on your smartphone. For newly diagnosed patients that may mean setting up accounts while still in the hospital, so being able to establish the account from your app is important.
- Type1D has a calculator feature, where the admin (parent or person setting up the app) inputs carb ratios, correction factors and correction target into the settings. This is especially useful for patients on injections. The caregivers simply enter in BG readings and carbohydrates.
- Caregivers can be invited by the admin simply by inputting their name, email address and role – not a separate code.
- The alerts and reminders for Type1D are via push notifications.
- Type1D has quick entry on one screen without having to swipe through multiple screens. You can also easily tag activities and notes that are downloaded in reports for doctors to have more context around the numbers entered.
This is an exciting project. And what do you do for your day job?
I live in Cincinnati, OH, and currently work in the pharmaceutical technology field. Having started my career as a registered nurse, then later earning a Master's in Business Administration, I've spent the last 18 years in the medical device, pharmaceutical and healthcare fields, with 11 of those years at Johnson & Johnson. I feel that my background as a RN and working in the pharmaceutical industry was fate, where I now have the opportunity to use those skills to find solutions for families of children with type 1 diabetes.
What's been the most encouraging thing you've seen change in the diabetes world recently, as far as technology and innovation?
My first exposure to diabetes was in nursing school and I clearly remember giving my very first insulin injection in 1994! But just in the short time since Sam was diagnosed on Halloween of 2014, the advancements seem to be coming fast and furious compared to the last five years. From the Bionic Pancreas to new research partnerships to find the root cause of type 1 diabetes, and needle-free ways to check blood sugar, I’m highly encouraged that in my lifetime I will see not only methods to make diabetes management easier and less complicated for patients, but prevention and cure of the disease altogether.
What do you think is missing as far as diabetes tools that could be available now but aren't?
There is a lot of great technology on the horizon, which is highly encouraging. The one area that may be overlooked right now, and greatly affects insulin dosing, is accurate carb counting. Restaurants are getting better at publishing nutrition information, but how do we know the portion size is consistent with what is published? And when you have a home-cooked meal at a family member’s house, we are often scrambling to figure out the carb count. Maybe finding an easier, more accurate solution for carb counting will be my next project.
What moved you to enter our Patient Voices Contest?
Diabetes will now forever be a part of my life, and I want to embrace the diagnosis by learning, sharing and contributing in this space. The type 1 diabetes community and social network has played a key role in helping us adapt to our new lifestyle so quickly. The tips, ideas and suggestions from other parents have helped me more times than I can count. The Type1D app is designed with the newly diagnosed family in mind… and I would love to help other families leaving the hospital ease their transition to a “new normal” by having a tool to better track and manage their child’s care.
What are you looking forward to at the Innovation Summit?
So many of us have great ideas, but greater things happen when you have a group of like-minded, passionate people who have a common goal of improving life for people living with diabetes. Having a cross-functional, diverse group of people from patient advocates, regulatory experts, Pharma industry leaders and innovators will surely lead to new ideas that will positively impact the broader diabetes community.
Thanks, Julie. We look forward to the launch of your new app, and of course seeing you in November.