For the this year's DiabetesMine Design Challenge, we are fortunate to have a judging panel that includes some highly influential individuals in healthcare and diabetes treatment. So who are these people? And what prompted them to get involved with a diabetes design contest? I'd like to take the opportunity to introduce these folks in a series of (hopefully enlightening) interviews, that will (also hopefully) foster further creativity and motivate some of you to jump in with your best diabetes ideas.

Hey, you could win $10,000! The contest is sponsored this year by the California HealthCare Foundation (CHCF), an Oakland CA-based independent philanthropy organization committed to improving the way health care is delivered and financed in California and beyond.

So let's start with our benefactor-judge, Veenu Aulakh, a senior program officer for the California HealthCare Foundation's Better Chronic Disease Care program, with deep experience in diabetes care. You can read her bio on the CHCF website.


DBMine) Veenu, you work with the California HealthCare Foundation's (CHCF) Better Chronic Disease Care program. Can you describe in laymen's terms what that group does?

VA) Our focus is on improving the lives for Californians living with chronic disease. We do this by focusing on the following three areas: 1) Help health care providers to take better care for patients with chronic conditions, 2) Increase patient and family involvement in care so care reflects what patients want and need, and 3) Promote appropriate care toward the end of life.


DBMine) What's the tie-in to Social Media and supporting a blog-based innovation contest for diabetes?

VA) Our second area of focus is involving patients and families in care. We see social media as a great venue to enable those living with chronic conditions to give input to designing products that reflect their needs. It also lets patients "speak" to the health care field and express where current products aren't making the cut and could use improvement. We are interested in identifying innovative new design solutions and want to try and reach a broader community to help push better solutions for people living with diabetes. We think patients need to be central to this design process and think this approach puts them there.


DBMine) Is your program doing anything else specific to diabetes care? And if so, what's the potential to improve patients' quality of life?

VA) We are doing a lot to improve diabetes care -— everything from helping providers improve care thru a focus on measurement, installing IT systems, and quality improvement to a focus on improving patient care by strengthening communication between providers and patients, using promotoras and peers to support patients, promoting personal health records for patients to own and control their health information, and getting health systems to develop self-care resources in clinics and the community. We also try and increase knowledge about what we know works to improve care and get health systems to adopt these practices.


DBMine) In the past you worked with Kaiser Permanente developing diabetes management programs. What would you say is the approach of an organization like that in creating a diabetes program? How central are patients to the design process?

VA) It has been a number of years since I have worked to develop diabetes programs for Kaiser. When I worked with KP it was a very evidence-based process for developing these programs. It was a combination of understanding and distilling the most recent evidence, coupling it with some of the best practices that were known, and working with providers and experts across the country within KP to see how to best implement at a local level. At the time patients were not actively involved in designing these programs but I know that KP has been working hard to change this dynamic. For instance, I now sit on a patient/advisory board for KP to develop IT solutions for patients. As a KP member they are interested in hearing what I have to say. I think this move to patient involvement is growing but still not where it needs to be —- not just in Kaiser but across the health care field.


DBMine) Finally, we are very grateful for CHCF's sponsorship of this year's DiabetesMine Design Challenge. What would you personally like most to see come out of this exciting innovation competition for diabetes?

VA) I would personally love to see this contest result in a variety of creative solutions which could lead to products to improve the lives of people living with diabetes. I'm also hoping this approach of engaging people living with diabetes, designers and the larger field through social media is a successful approach we could use to address other focused problems which may lead to improvements in care. Lastly, I'm hoping this gets the attention of the larger field who sees patient involvement in design as critical for all design efforts moving forward.


Thank you, Veenu, for all that you and CHCF do!


Disclaimer: Content created by the Diabetes Mine team. For more details click here.


This content is created for Diabetes Mine, a consumer health blog focused on the diabetes community. The content is not medically reviewed and doesn't adhere to Healthline's editorial guidelines. For more information about Healthline's partnership with Diabetes Mine, please click here.