Using Personal Health Records to Improve Diabetes Care

The Challenge

Diabetes currently affects more than 21 million people in the U.S.—7 percent of the population—and if current trends go unchecked, the forecast is for those numbers to climb significantly. A serious chronic disease in its own right, diabetes can lead to other chronic conditions such as heart disease, kidney disease and stroke. The terrible effects of diabetes, however, can be reduced and even avoided if people with this condition manage it carefully and diligently in their everyday lives.

To improve the lives of people managing diabetes and reduce their risks for further illness, the Project HealthDesign team from T.R.U.E. Research Foundation—working at Walter Reed Army Medical Center and the University of Hawaii, with Estenda Solutions, Inc.,—is developing a prototype personal health record (PHR) application that captures information about daily living that is important for diabetes management and gives action-oriented advice for self-care. The T.R.U.E. team’s application is not a standalone device; rather, it is a set of rules, algorithms and data structures with user interfaces that consumers can access on the Web via a computer or Internet-enabled mobile device.

The PHR application will analyze, summarize and display data, advising users on nutrition, daily physical activity, blood glucose, emotional state, and the interaction of all these factors. It will also enable consumers to conduct "what if" analyses that can predict the health results of choices they might be considering, such as the effects of a particular meal on blood glucose levels.

The Solution: Where We Are

The T.R.U.E. team initially conducted several focus groups with people who have diabetes and interviewed expert consultants on their project team who themselves have diabetes. They learned that people with diabetes need on-the-spot advice about actions to be taken in the next few hours, such as what to eat to avert blood glucose dips or spikes. The team is building a prototype that responds to the needs of people with diabetes. Project HealthDesign’s PHR platform will make this technology available through a user-friendly interface, with a section on how to customize the application based on self-defined goals. For people with diabetes, whose blood glucose levels can vary dangerously based on just one meal, the T.R.U.E. PHR application will serve as a valuable tool in living a healthier life.

Project Contact

Stephanie Fonda, Ph.D.
Senior Research Scientist
T.R.U.E. Research Foundation
Walter Reed Army Medical Center
6900 Georgia Avenue, NW
Building 2, Room 7D
Washington, D.C., 20307-0003
(202) 782-5239

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