Catching Up: ITP Thesis & Quantified Self

The last few months have been rather hectic here in NY and I’ve fallen behind on posting. But I wanted to give a quick update on my work with Databetes.

In May, I wrapped up my graduate studies at NYU’s ITP. Databetes was my thesis. Video of presentation is available here. The foundation of my thesis was the yearlong Quantified Self project I did tracking every data point related to my diabetes throughout 2012. This included blood sugar readings (~100,00), insulin dosages, every meal eaten, location data and more. With all this self-tracking, 2012 turned out to be the healthiest of my life. My A1c blood tests improved nearly a full point to the 5.6-5.8 range. I also talked about my work designing and developing a meal tracking mobile app.

In the Spring, I presented at the New York Quantified Self Meetup. This event was held at the digital design firm R/GA, who has done extensive work with Nike and were heavily involved in the Nike FuelBand project. All the presentations focused on exercise. In 2012, I trained for and ran the Philadelphia Marathon. My presentation talked about the changes in insulin rates I saw throughout my training, race day and the month after. I also showed work I did in collaboration with Jochen Wendel, a Ph.D. student at the University of Colorado and fellow T1 diabetic. His focus is on cartography. We generated a Google Earth map that showed my marathon route that is color-coded based on my blood sugar readings. Jochen has done this type of work on his own blood sugar and mountain bike data. Geomedicine is an interesting and evolving are of focus, as noted in this article.

My marathon route, color-coded based on my blood sugar readings



The Google Earth map is interactive, allowing you to click on any point along my marathon route to see the data. I added a red arrow to this screenshot to point out my blood sugar readings from my Dexcom and OneTouch (listed as Medtronic) meters.

These two pieces of work highlight the fact that increased patient engagement with their data can lead to improved health outcomes. For me, this process was quite tedious, keeping track of all this information. With Databetes, we are developing simpler ways to archive, analyze and recall this data in a way that is easier for patients to integrate into their busy lives. I strongly believe that tools focused on improving diabetes outcomes need to begin with a focus on patient engagement and education.

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