STOP force-quitting your apps on iOS.
Yep, you read right. And yes, we had the same initial reaction as you. But all this force-quitting on our iPhones is hurting, not helping. Plain and simple, “you should force an app to close only when it’s unresponsive,” according to Apple. When asked point-blank by a user whether Apple employees force-quit their apps and if it had any benefits to preserving battery-life, Apple VP of Software Engeineering Craig Federighi put it best: “No and No.”
Born This Way
Superhero skills went into ensuring iOS worked in such a way that once an app is in the background, it’s “frozen.” It’s not burning through your battery life, it’s simply stalled until the next time you want to use it. The system is designed precisely this way, so that iOS can keep a passive relationship going with all apps & devices you have running in the background without putting iPhone battery life at risk.
iOS + One Drop
What does all of this mean for your One Drop app and meter? If you keep your One Drop app running in the background, iOS remembers all the data in your One Drop app it pulled up upon that initial launch. Next time you open your app, One Drop can retrieve all that data in a flash. Additionally, it keeps that oh-so-special bluetooth connection in-tact, making it easier for your One Drop | Chrome and app to speak with each other on command.
Force-quitting One Drop on your iPhone, however, causes major breakage. The operating system forgets One Drop was ever there. All the data, the BT-connection is gone. Meaning relaunching your One Drop app the next time around will be like rekindling an old flame. Awkward, slow, and cumbersome.
Method to the Madness
No, there isn’t one in the instance of the force-quit fallacy. There is, however, a method to keeping your apps running in the background. Unless an app is frozen or giving you a stink, keep ’em up to speed & ready for action. You’ll keep iPhone battery life up, and frustration levels down. The more you know!
We’re Apple’s App of the Day! 📱
If you head over to the App Store today, you’ll see a totally revamped store (which looks amazing, BTW), as well as One Drop, featured as Apple’s App of the day! This stamp of approval from the “digital magazine for apps” is what many people & developers worldwide deem the ultimate seal of approval. And with the millions of apps available for download, we are stoked to receive such all-star recognition.
One Drop App Highlights
So what does Apple have to say about their App of the Day pick?
“One Drop makes [managing your diabetes] a lot easier and presents the data in a format that makes sense at a glance.”
“Your blood sugar (the red circle) is what you need to monitor, but the other colors help you visualize how lifestyle choices might be affecting that important number.”
“Seeing the information contextualized in this way can also help you identify problematic times of the day, as well as highlight your successes.”
“We particularly appreciate the step-by-step recipes for A1C-friendly versions of our favorite dishes. Who knew low-carb tacos could be so delicious?”
For the full story, check out Apple’s coverage here. (PSST 🗣 To get the full experience, view this story in the App Store on iOS 11 with your iPhone or iPad.)
Just in time: National Diabetes Awareness Month
This awesome feature comes just in the nick of time – it’s National Diabetes Awareness Month! So having an app like One Drop highlighted in the Apple Store is just one more way to get all eyes on diabetes. 👀
It’s this awareness and advocacy that are helping to accelerate diabetes into the 21st century. And One Drop users are fueling the fire. 🚀 In just over two years, over 1/2 million One Drop | Mobile users have contributed over 500 million health data points. We have logged in 8,500,000 times, spent more than 13,000,000 minutes in the app tracking & analyzing our BGs, meds, food, and activity, and contributed to a growing body of health data informing the future of diabetes self-care. Why? Because we are not waiting. 👊
One Drop users gain 24/7 access to Fitbit data in combination with One Drop health data to drive more comprehensive care management experience
One Drop to develop custom app for Fitbit Ionic™ providing diabetes-related health data on wrist for users of both Android and iOS devices
NEW YORK, Oct. 31, 2017 — One Drop, a leading digital diabetes care and self-management platform, today announced a multi-part collaboration with Fitbit (NYSE: FIT) that will use the power of Fitbit wearable data to bring enhanced data-driven care management tools to the diabetes community. The first initiative will be to integrate enhanced access to Fitbit data into the One Drop | Mobile app for diabetes management, providing One Drop users with at-a-glance access to Fitbit data, with the goal of helping users better understand the impact of physical activity on blood glucose management. Fitbit data will also be incorporated into One Drop reports, allowing physicians and One Drop | Experts, and One Drop | Professional users to utilize this data to make more personalized, informed care decisions.
Starting in November, One Drop users will be able to sync Fitbit intraday data to their One Drop accounts. This will allow users of the free, cloud-based diabetes management solution to seamlessly integrate data from all Fitbit devices throughout the day, reducing the burden of manually tracking physical activity, sleep and heart rate data.
One Drop will also analyze Fitbit data along with One Drop’s 500 million user-generated health data points with the goal of surfacing deeper insights and improving health outcomes for all people with diabetes worldwide. For example, someone can potentially see how their physical activity can impact blood glucose levels. One Drop | Experts1 users will be able to review this data with their very own Certified Diabetes Educator as they work together to meet personalized health goals.
“We strive to provide our community with the most comprehensive set of data and tools to manage their diabetes or prediabetes. Working with Fitbit, the leading global wearables brand, was a natural next step for One Drop,” said Jeff Dachis, CEO and Founder, One Drop. “One Drop is among the top Health and Fitness apps in nearly 120 countries with over 600,000 downloads worldwide. By integrating Fitbit data and creating an app for Fitbit Ionic, we will be able to provide our users and their healthcare providers with more data and deeper insights to better manage their diabetes.”
Also beginning in November, all One Drop users, regardless of their mobile platform, will be able to purchase the Fitbit tracker that best suits their needs, including Fitbit’s new smartwatch, Fitbit Ionic, through a special offer made available through a unique One Drop storefront experience.
One Drop will also develop an app for Fitbit Ionic, bringing One Drop’s care management experience to the wrist. Using the Fitbit software development kit (SDK), which was made available to developers last month, users will be able to track the same self-care data, and view data-driven insights and statistics from One Drop with convenience and ease.
One Drop is an award-winning2, cloud-based diabetes management solution with a track record of delivering remarkable clinical outcomes3 through its evidence-based self-care tools, professional coaching, and data-driven insights. A study published in JMIR Diabetes in August 2017 demonstrated a 1.1% to 1.3% absolute reduction in A1C in just four months among free One Drop | Mobile users, a more significant reduction than other published research suggested was possible using a mobile care management app. As part of this partnership, the companies are exploring new research opportunities to enhance future product innovation.
“Our mission is to help make the world healthier, and our new Ionic smartwatch is the health platform that allows us to deliver our most advanced health and fitness features to the market,” said Adam Pellegrini, General Manager Fitbit Health Solutions. “This holistic experience brings the power of Fitbit data together with One Drop’s sophisticated care management technology to provide meaningful insights on the role of physical activity and how it can improve the health of those living with diabetes.”
ABOUT ONE DROP
One Drop (Informed Data Systems Inc.) is a digital health company harnessing the power of mobile computing and data science to transform the lives of everyone with diabetes worldwide.The One Drop platform is evidence-based and clinically effective. It brings affordable, accessible diabetes care to everyone with diabetes and a smartphone, as well as their insurers and health care providers. One Drop | Chrome is sold exclusively by One Drop (iOS, Android, and http://onedrop.today/), Amazon (http://www.amazon.com), and Apple
(http://store.apple.com). One Drop’s consumer subscription services are available for purchase in-app (iOS and Android) and at http://onedrop.today. The One Drop | Mobile solution is available for free download worldwide (iOS and Android). For more information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Fitbit and the Fitbit logo are trademarks or registered trademarks of Fitbit, Inc. in the U.S. and other countries. Additional Fitbit trademarks can be found at www.fitbit.com/legal/trademark-list. Third-party trademarks are the property of their respective owners.
1 One Drop | Experts has been recognized by the American Diabetes Association for Quality Self-Management Education and Support: http://onedrop.today/experts/
Company announces study results demonstrating a 1.1% to 1.3% absolute reduction in A1C among people with diabetes (type 1 and type 2) using the One Drop | Mobile app.
New York, NY — August 25, 2017 — One Drop today announced the results of a retrospective study of people with diabetes (type 1 and type 2) using the One Drop | Mobile diabetes management app, demonstrating a 1.1% to 1.3% absolute reduction in A1C in just 4 months. The results were published yesterday, August 24, 2017, in JMIR Diabetes.
The One Drop | Mobile app for iOS and Android is available for free in the App Store or Google Play Store. With One Drop | Mobile, users can manually and passively (via Apple HealthKit, Google Fit, and the One Drop | Chrome blood glucose meter) store, track, and share data. Users can schedule medication reminders, view statistics, set goals, track A1c and weight, get data-driven insights, provide and receive encouragement from other users, and get tips and advice to assist with diabetes management.
Using retrospective app-collected data, One Drop in collaboration with U.S. and non-U.S.-based scientists, assessed the A1c change of people using One Drop | Mobile. They also assessed the relationship between tracking self-care with the app and changes in A1c.
“We used real-world data to produce timely and relevant results,” said Dr. Chandra Osborn, Vice President of Health and Behavioral Informatics at One Drop. “More often than not, relevance and the gold standard randomized controlled trial are at odds. We didn’t perform a RCT on outdated technology. We studied current technology and recent data, and found A1c improved among people using the One Drop app. We also linked that improvement to tracking self-care with the app.” Dr. Osborn added, “From study to publication in less than 3 months is unheard of. That’s impossible to do with a RCT. When it comes to technology, relevance and speed are everything.”
As of June 7, 2017, 1288 people with type 1 or type 2 diabetes had entered two A1c values in the app (from 2 to 12 months apart), had their diabetes diagnoses verified with medications entered in the app, and had an average blood glucose consistent with their self-reported A1c values. Of the 367 people with type 1 diabetes and 921 people with type 2 diabetes, 35% were female, diagnosed with diabetes for a mean 9 years, and tracked an average 1700 self-care activities in the app between their two A1c values. Self-reported A1c can be as accurate as laboratory A1c , and we confirmed self-reported A1c was significantly associated with 90-day average blood glucose (rho=.73 to .75, P<.001) and consistent with cohort studies testing the relationship between blood glucose and laboratory A1c. During a median of 4 months, the following outcomes were observed :
- A1c improved by -1.1% (from 8.3% to 7.2% in adjusted analyses, P<.001) across all users studied.
- A1c improved by -1.3% (from 8.3% to 7.0%, P<.001) for users with T2D.
- A1c improved by -0.9% (from 8.4% to 7.5%, P<.001) for users with T1D.
- In unadjusted and adjusted analyses, using One Drop | Mobile to record food was associated with greater A1c improvement (all models, P<.05).
“Prior to this study, the scientific literature told us that diabetes mobile apps could potentially improve A1c by -0.45%,” said Jeff Dachis, CEO and Founder of One Drop. “I’m thrilled to present evidence that says otherwise. We are seeing dramatic improvements in A1c — often achieved with drugs, but rarely, if ever, seen with digital therapeutics and self-care interventions. And, in this case, we’re doing it all at scale for less than a fraction of the cost of current standards of care: free.”
At this year’s American Diabetes Association 77th Scientific Sessions, Evidation Health Inc. reported results of a non-randomized study evaluating the One Drop | Mobile app and One Drop | Experts coaching service. In only 3 months, people with T2D improved their A1c by :
- -0.90% among study completers;
- -1.00% among active users who used the app and messaged a coach at least once; and
- -1.32% among active users with baseline A1c ≥ 9.0%.
Leveraging data collected in-app, One Drop reported these users :
- reduced carbohydrate intake by >10 grams per meal;
- increased activity by 25 minutes per week;
- decreased average blood glucose by 29 mg/dL (a 1.00% A1c reduction);
- reduced glycemic variability; and
- increased the percentage of in-range blood glucose values.
“With growing numbers of people developing diabetes and increasing options to treat the disease, self-management has become much more complex,” said Dr. David Marrero, Director of the Center for Health Disparities Research at the University of Arizona and former President of the American Diabetes Association’s Healthcare and Education. “The One Drop | Mobile app illuminates the potential for mobile technology to assist persons with diabetes in both tracking the varied elements of their therapy and making more informed self-management decisions. Too many apps promise to improve health, but often don’t deliver. It’s great to see an app that finally does.”
1 Kumar S, Uppal J, Osborn CY, Heyman M, Juusola J. The accuracy of self-reported A1c among individuals with type 2 diabetes. 2017 Diabetes Abstract Book, vol 67 (Suppl 1A), Late Breaking.
2 Osborn CY, van Ginkel JR, Rodbard D, Heyman M, Marrero DG, Huddleston B, Dachis J, One Drop | Mobile: An Evaluation of Hemoglobin A1c Improvement Linked to App Engagement, JMIR Diabetes 2017;2(2):e21, http://diabetes.jmir.org/2017/2/e21/, doi: 10.2196/diabetes.8039.
3 Kumar S., et al. Impact of a diabetes mobile app with in-app coaching on glycemic control. Late-breaking peer-reviewed poster presentation at the 77th Annual Meeting of the American Diabetes Association; San Diego, CA, USA, June 2017.
4 Osborn C.Y., et al The One Drop mobile app with in-app coaching improves blood glucose and self-care. Peer-reviewed poster presentation at the 77th Annual Meeting of the American Diabetes Association; San Diego, CA, USA, June 2017.
ABOUT ONE DROP
One Drop (Informed Data Systems Inc.) is a digital health company harnessing the power of mobile computing and data science to transform the lives of everyone with diabetes worldwide.
The One Drop platform is evidence-based and clinically effective. It brings affordable, accessible diabetes care to everyone with diabetes and a smartphone, as well as their insurers and health care providers. One Drop’s current offerings include:
One Drop | Chrome: One Drop’s FDA-approved, CE-certified Bluetooth wireless blood glucose monitoring system, which meets the highest standards of clinical accuracy and wirelessly transmits blood glucose data to the cloud via the One Drop | Mobile app for iOS and Android.
One Drop | Plus: One Drop’s newest subscription offerings, providing 50 to 100 blood glucose test strips per month for One Drop | Chrome and unlimited coaching via One Drop | Experts, starting at $13 per month.
One Drop | Premium: One Drop’s unlimited subscription, providing unlimited blood glucose test strips for One Drop | Chrome and unlimited coaching via One Drop | Experts, starting at $33 per month.
One Drop | Experts: One Drop’s 24/7, on-demand, digital diabetes education and coaching service, available as a standalone subscription, starting at $11 per month.* Each One Drop | Experts subscriber has his/her own “Expert” (Certified Diabetes Educator) available 24/7 for guidance, support, and anytime care. Experts deliver personalized digital therapeutics programs, including ADA-recognized diabetes education, to help people with diabetes define and achieve their health management goals. Subscribers can communicate with their Experts anytime via in-app chat; all data recorded in the app is available to Experts in real-time, allowing them to provide personalized behavioral guidance when subscribers need it most — no appointments necessary.
One Drop | Mobile: One Drop’s free, award-winning, cloud-based diabetes management solution delivered entirely via mobile app on iOS and Android. One Drop | Mobile provides real-time and historical blood glucose data and analytics to people with diabetes and their healthcare providers, allowing both to see relationships between specific health behaviors and health outcomes. One Drop | Mobile includes a fully-featured Apple WatchOS app for logging and analyzing diabetes data on the go. One Drop | Mobile is the only diabetes management platform that offers comprehensive self-care, peer-support, and expert support all in one place.
One Drop | Professional: One Drop’s HIPPA-compliant enterprise solution for insurers, healthcare provider networks, self-insured employers, and drug/device manufacturers seeking to dramatically improve health outcomes and lower the cost of caring for people with diabetes. One Drop | Professional delivers real-time data, real-time messaging, custom branding, custom content delivery, custom educational support, EMR/EHR integration, and the most affordable, effective, turnkey diabetes solution in market.
One Drop | Chrome is sold exclusively by One Drop (iOS, Android, and http://onedrop.today/), Amazon (http://www.amazon.com), and Apple (http://store.apple.com). One Drop’s consumer subscription services are available for purchase in-app (iOS and Android) and at http://onedrop.today. The One Drop | Mobile solution is available for free download worldwide (iOS and Android). For more information, contact email@example.com.
*The American Diabetes Association recognizes this education service as meeting the National Standards for Diabetes Self-Management Education and Support.
The diabetes technology and digital space is booming and nowhere was this more clear than at the American Diabetes Association’s Scientific Sessions held this past June in San Diego. From the exhibit hall and poster sessions to the buzz in the hallway, you couldn’t walk 10 feet without seeing something about diabetes technology.
As I listened to what people are saying about technology, I heard a lot of buzzwords and phrases like ‘engagement’, ‘make life with diabetes easier’ and ’empowerment’. It’s true and really exciting. If designed and delivered well, digital health and technology can empower people in their own self-care.
But we have to be careful to make sure these technologies empower people to make healthy choices in their diabetes management and not become disengaged from the link between their behavior and their health.
What does empowerment mean?
Empowerment means the process of becoming stronger and more confident, especially in controlling one’s life. It’s the ability to be mindful and make healthy choices and having the tools and skills needed to act on these choices. Technologies help empower people with diabetes in many ways, especially by giving them data, tools and support, which can be used to increase motivation to be active in their health.
For example, seeing diabetes data can clearly show you the impact that some of your decisions have on your blood sugar, like if you drink a regular soda, it will make your blood sugar go up. Digital health can give people with diabetes tools and teach them skills they can use to actually change their behavior. These technologies also increase access to the support that’s essential to helping people make changes. Having a choice by definition means there is more than one path you can take. Empowering people to make a healthy choice with diabetes doesn’t necessarily make the choice easy, rather it helps them make the healthy choice even though it may not be easy.
I’ll be honest here. Some of the ways that people were talking about technology at ADA made me a little nervous. For example, some folks were describing closed loop and artificial pancreas systems as technologies that will completely automate diabetes management, meaning people who use them won’t ever have to think about diabetes. These tools promise to make diabetes easier and lighten some of the load that people with diabetes have to carry.
We are doing ourselves a great disservice if we let technology, or our expectations of it, disempower us. Diabetes is a serious condition and living a healthy lifestyle, including taking insulin and other medications as prescribed, is at the center of good diabetes management. We are fooling ourselves if we believe that managing diabetes doesn’t take hard work. We are not doing ourselves any good if we believe that technology can make hard work unnecessary.
If we aren’t careful in the way we talk about and use diabetes technology and digital health tools, we run the risk of becoming disempowered. Empowerment doesn’t mean easy or mindless, rather it means strong and mindful. Empowerment means that when you are faced with a decision, you have the tools you need to make a healthy one, as opposed to making an easy (and often unhealthy) choice and letting technology cover for you.
So, what does empowerment through technology look like?
At One Drop, we truly believe that empowering people in their health is the key to diabetes management. Everything that we do gives people the tools they need to become more mindful, motivated and empowered to manage diabetes well. No matter what technology we use to manage diabetes, whether it’s a closed-loop artificial pancreas system or just an insulin pen/pills, we should always be mindful of the impact our behaviors have on our health outcomes.
We know that diabetes management takes focus and hard work, and we know this isn’t always easy. We’re committed to giving people the information, tools and support they need to lean into this hard work and be successful because that is the only way we’ll have a lasting impact our health. Any other way is just a band-aid on a broken bone.
“Alexa, tell One Drop my blood sugar is 89.”
It’s live! The One Drop Alexa Skill is finally here, and with it, the ability to log all of your diabetes data without ever lifting a finger. We can now log and track our blood glucose, activity and food moments, and receive data summaries of those records, all via voice command!
You bet. People in separate locations (a mother, grandfather, caregiver, etc.) can access these same data snapshots as long as they have access to your One Drop account. Ask Alexa to log your current meal from across a room and that data point becomes immediately available to everyone with access to your One Drop data. If you are working with a One Drop | Expert, you can start a conversation about the current meal right away!
How do I get One Drop Alexa?
Simple! As long as you have an Alexa device (Amazon Alexa or Amazon Echo) and your own One Drop app account, you’re ready to get started. Here’s what to do next:
on Desktop / Mobile Web Browser:
-Go to the One Drop Alexa landing page
-Sign In to your One Drop account *you may need to turn off pop-up blockers here
-Grant Permissions by pressing OK
on Mobile (Amazon Alexa App):
-Menu > Skills
-Search One Drop
-Sign In to your One Drop account
-Grant Permissions by pressing OK
When you’re busy prepping your low-carb zucchini pasta, you don’t have to waste any time logging your pre-dinner BG; instead, tell it to Alexa! Here are a few other questions and commands to try out:
-“Alexa, tell One Drop my blood glucose is .”
–“Alexa, tell One Drop I ate  carbs.”
–“Alexa, tell One Drop I ate  carbs for lunch.”
–“Alexa, tell One Drop I ran for  minutes.”
–“Alexa, ask One Drop how many carbs have I eaten?”
–“Alexa, ask One Drop what’s my daily summary?”
–“Alexa, ask One Drop what’s my med schedule today?”
It’s always a good time to log diabetes data; now with your One Drop + Alexa, you can do it anytime, anywhere, without even lifting a finger.
BIG NEWS! One Drop now includes improved reports! Find out how to use our new report features.
Our improved reports now include a Blood Glucose Report for deep analysis of blood glucose trends, a Simple Logbook, and CSV file. Share a link to your reports with anyone so they can view and analyze your results.
Here’s how to access your reports:
Blood Glucose Report
Take a look at your Blood Glucose Report by tapping “Blood Glucose Report” in the Reports menu. This report, meant to be viewed on a desktop, displays your blood glucose data for easy analysis. Simply share the link to your report to yourself or to a caregiver to view the data.
In the Blood Glucose report, you can view your blood glucose by hour and day. Change the time range in the top right corner to see your 7, 14, 30 and 90 day trends. The table below the graph also allows your to see your average steps and carb intake over the designated time span. Above the graph, you can see your A1c, weight and medication history to see where you started and how far you’ve come.
Understand Your Graphs
On the graph, each number displayed represents the average of all the blood glucose readings taken for that particular hour or day across the selected time period. Your report gives you a daily and hourly graph — just scroll down your reports to see the different graphs.
In the above report showing blood glucose by hour over the past 30 days, you can see that Rachel’s average at 8am is 88. Below the graph is a table that breaks down blood glucose readings into:
- % above range
- % below range
You can set your range in the health goals in Settings, the default setting is 70 mg/dL – 130 mg/dL. Rachel was in-range 82% of the time at 8am, above her set range 4% of the time and below range 14% of the time.
Spotting trends like a low 14% of the time at 8am, after a majority of steps in a day, can help Rachel modify her exercise routine and/or doses of insulin to prevent lows in the morning.
Understanding the Details
Hover over any average value on the graph to get more detailed information about how you’re doing at that time of day. In the report above, you can see that Rachel has a range of 49 mg/dl to 254 mg/dl at 2pm. The bars that extend above and below the average show the range. The pop-up box gives:
- the range of your highest and lowest numbers
- the 25th percentile
- the 75th percentile
The 75th percentile is the number that 75% of your blood glucose readings fall beneath. The 25th percentile is the number that 25% of your readings fall below or 75% of your readings are above.
Take a look at your Simple Logbook by tapping “Simple Logbook” in the Reports menu. Like the Blood Glucose Report, this is meant to be viewed on a desktop. You can share the link with your healthcare team, family members, and friends.
Your simple logbook shows you all of your moments by day and provides you daily averages. Use the moment type and time range filters at the top right to highlight the data you’d like to see. To use the moment type filters, click the box next to the type of moment(s) you would like to view or hide in your report. These filters make it easy to track how each moment type can affect another.
Send all of your moments in a CSV file to your care team by simply selecting the time frame and your preferred delivery method. We make it easy to deliver your diabetes data to your doctors, spouse, friends, and family, just select your delivery method and send!
Want to see these reports in action?
Check out the videos at the links below:
>> More advanced reporting is also on the way — stay tuned!
I tend to forge my own path. I was the first in my family to go to college. I got a masters degree, a PhD, a second masters degree, and, finally my dream job: a tenure-track position at a prestigious university.
For 8 years, I was a professor, NIH-funded scientist, and sought after advisor. I led clinical trials and published over 90 peer-reviewed papers. I taught, mentored students, residents, post-docs, and junior faculty. I held national leadership positions. I led a team of bright and talented people doing, what often felt like, impossible health tech research. And I was right on the cusp of being tenured (i.e. I’d have job security until retirement).
Then, I did something I thought I’d never do: I walked away from it all.
I left prestige. I left my research, my team, and my mentees. I also walked away from a huge college benefit for my kids (70% off tuition at my university or 100% off if at a cheaper college anywhere in the country!). Not many people walk away from a highly-coveted academic position or from tenure they’re about to touch. If they do, it’s for another university offering the same benefits, if not more. Instead, I left for a startup, where nothing is guaranteed.
I’M NOT ALONE
Before starting my new job, I read an article in the New York Times. It was about economists leaving prestigious universities to join Facebook, Microsoft, Amazon, Uber and Airbnb.
So, why are people leaving academia? A few reasons:
Less bureaucracy. Academics spend more time jumping hurdles than getting their work done. Tech companies don’t have that red tape.
Big data. Academics waste time, money, and resources to collect enough data to say something interesting. Tech companies collect endless amounts of data by default and need people to leverage that data in meaningful ways.
Impact. In academia, people wait too long for their research findings to change the world. Tech companies move fast to impact the world today. #wearenotwaiting
WHY DID I BECOME A PROFESSOR?
I became a professor and scientist to help people. I wanted to discover, understand, mentor, and have a profound impact. I wanted to help people live healthier and happier lives.
For 15 years, I studied how to promote health. I built and tested health programs for people with diabetes. I wanted these programs to work and help as many people as possible.
But they helped only people in my research trials, and no one else. Why? Because it takes 17 years for research findings to have any impact in the real world, if at all. That’s just — Way. Too. Long.
Before 2008, I delivered health promotion in the most low-tech ways, with flip-charts, printed materials, and people — like community health workers, dietitians and certified diabetes educators. But in 2008, I realized the world was headed in a different direction.
As I held my first smartphone in my hands, I asked myself: “How can I use this technology to help people manage their health? And how can I do it more effectively and at greater scale?”
Health apps were just gaining traction, and developing one seemed out of reach for me and my small team. So, we built a website instead.
TECHNOLOGY MOVES FAST & ACADEMIA CAN’T KEEP UP
We built Diabetes MAP, a website to help people stick to their medication schedule, and spent years studying it. But, what you won’t find in my research articles is all the challenges we faced building Diabetes MAP. It was complicated, delayed, and frustrating.
My colleagues at other universities all agree: developing health tech in academia is slow and painful. It’s impossible to hire and retain the best and the brightest graphic designers, developers, and tech project managers. Some of the reasons for this:
They’re underpaid. Tech people can easily make six figures in the commercial world. In academia, you only make that much if you have a MD or PhD.
The environment stifles creativity. Tech people would rather work in creative environments and around like-minded people — in coffee shops or co-working spaces with others like them. Being bound to a cubicle from 9-5 doesn’t appeal to them, or anyone for that matter.
They want to use modern tools. Tech people expect to use the latest tools to get sh*t done. Tools like Slack, Trello, Basecamp, and Jira, instead of landlines, Outlook, or pagers (yes, these things still exist!).
Health tech innovations in academia are bootstrapped together, break, and have to be rebuilt over and over again. More headache, more expense, and more time… I came up with the idea of Diabetes MAP in early 2009, and it took 8 years to complete our research on it!
In those eight years, there were 15 versions of the iPhone, the launch of the iPad, the launch of the Apple Watch, and multiple versions of Android and PC. In 2009, a website seemed innovative and worth our time and resources. But, by the time we built and rebuilt it (three times!), and learned if it worked, people had moved on. What might’ve engaged people in 2009 is obsolete today. Today, Diabetes MAP would absolutely be an app, and not a website.
ENGAGEMENT IS LOW
Engagement (e.g. responding to a website or app by opening it, clicking around, and coming back) in academic-made technologies is low. We don’t make technologies people want to use. It’s not our skill set. It’s not what we’ve been trained to do.
To develop apps and websites people love, academics have to work with people who DO know how to use technology to engage people: Graphic designers. Software developers. Tech project managers. People who understand design, development, and engagement, but don’t necessarily know how to use those skills to improve health behaviors and health outcomes. We need to team up for the magic to happen.
I’m hopeful the academic landscape will change… but, I just can’t wait.
Ten months ago, I left an academic dream job, a team of people and mentees I love, and a near-guarantee of tenure to join a health tech startup.
Why? Because they’re a team of people who understand design, development, and engagement and want players like me on deck to help improve health behaviors and health outcomes. We’re using the latest technologies to make managing diabetes simple, awesome, cost-effective, evidence-based… and we’re doing it right now.
LIFE AFTER ACADEMIA
The startup I work for is in NYC. I now travel to/from NYC one week per month, leaving my 2-year-old and 5-year-old at home in Nashville.
I work at a co-working space in a small room with 10 other people. I no longer have a corner office with an executive desk, 3 computer monitors, a Herman Miller chair, an administrative assistant, or an army of people doing things for me at the drop of a hat. It’s a lot different.
When I got back to Nashville after my first week in NYC, my husband wanted to hear all about it. “Well, I was the first in the office each day. Most get in at 10. The building’s water was out, so the toilets were plugged up. I went to the closest pharmacy to get a case of water and lugged it back to the team. Our tiny open space means we all get to listen to each others’ conversations, including contentious ones. And, finally, I have no idea what I’m doing beyond writing blog posts.”
The truth is, it took time for me to adjust.
Ten months later, I love what I’m doing. The pace is fast. The impact is faster, anecdotally and empirically.
One Drop is the startup I work for. One Drop’s products include a mobile app (One Drop | Mobile) with in-app coaching (One Drop | Experts) and a sexy glucose meter (One Drop | Chrome). One Drop is supporting the health and wellness of people with diabetes around the world. I was recently analyzing over 1 million pieces of raw data generated in one week’s time, and hyper aware of the awesomeness of how that data landed in my lap, instantly.
Just today, another user reached out to say he lowered his hemoglobin A1c from 14% (19.7 mmol/mol) to 6% (7 mmol/mol) in just four months. This is profound impact, but not unique. Favorable anecdotal feedback pours in, all. day. long. Such a gift!
Another gift is doing science – just faster. We’ve generated 8 peer-reviewed scientific abstracts (4 in press), have multiple manuscripts under review, and much more on the way. At the recent Society of Behavioral Medicine meeting we reported people using the One Drop | Mobile app with and without One Drop | Experts have dramatic blood glucose improvements.
The American Diabetes Association’s 77th Scientific Sessions start this week. We’ll be presenting exciting outcomes of an internal and external evaluation of the One Drop | Mobile app + One Drop | Experts program. The embargo lifts on June 10th, so stay tuned.
Two months after I left academia, a big box arrived at my doorstep. It was a gift from my former university. A wooden chair embossed with the university’s seal and a gold plate engraved with: “Wishing you the best from your colleagues.” It’s a chair given only after 25 years of service. I’m grateful for the thoughtful gesture. But, the chair is hard, uncomfortable, and reminds me of Diabetes MAP: another thing no one will ever use.