Evolution of a web-based, Prototype Personal Health Application for Diabetes Self-Management

This article describes the development of a personal health application that facilitates self-management of diabetes. Diabetes is a common disabling disease in the United States that requires significant self-management to be successfully treated. With technical support from Project HealthDesign, a program funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the authors developed a web-based program to help individuals manage their diabetes through healthy nutrition, physical activity, medication use and glucose monitoring.

The authors first developed a prototype of the diabetes management program. They then conducted focus groups with 21 adults with diabetes to hone and refine the program.

Key Findings:

  • The prototype web-based personal health application created a set of gadgets, each of which focused on a different aspect of diabetes self-management: nutrition, glucose levels, medication, exercise, mood and problem-solving.
  • Interviews with individuals with diabetes showed that the personal health application would be most useful with minimal manual data entry. In response, the authors designed gadgets that drew from external sources and health record data depositories. The program was also designed to be compatible with biomonitoring technology, such as real-time physical activity and blood glucose monitors.
  • Going forward, the diabetes self-management program will be synchronized with the Microsoft HealthVault.

Diabetes is a common and serious disease that requires significant self-management. To maintain the long-term utility of a personal health application to help treat diabetes, the application must be dynamic, useful and meet the requirements of the user.