This week’s post comes from Liam McMorrow, who is from the west of Ireland and has lived with type 1 diabetes for 16 years (diagnosed aged 12). Liam has moved from multiple daily injections and finger prick testing to an insulin pump and CGM, and recently started looping. He is passionate about improving diabetes care and returned to live in Galway after spending a couple of years researching the health economics of diabetes at the University of Oxford. He is now working on his startup to make living with diabetes easier
Guest Post from Liam:
Patient-led innovation is when people living with the condition come up with new ideas on how to treat or manage it, and it's becoming increasingly popular!
Last October I applied to the Novo Nordisk Innovation Challenge with an idea that I had been mulling over in my head for a long time. An app that can facilitate financial incentives to teenagers with type 1 diabetes for managing their diabetes. The idea was based on my own experiences as a teenager with type 1 diabetes - I thought that I would have done a lot more if someone paid me.
The app is based on simple principals:
The parent and teenager work together to decide what actions should be rewarded and how much the reward is.
The parent provides the reward (think of it as a modern way of giving your children pocket money)
The actions must be non-judgemental i.e. you get rewarded for checking your blood glucose, it doesn’t matter what the value is
The data must be objective. To make sure there is no gaming, the app receive data directly from the blood glucose monitor directly.
The reason people are starting to take note of patient innovators is because of a concept called design-thinking. Design-thinking is all about understanding the problem, and once you understand the problem, you can come up with creative solutions. Joel Goldsmith, the driving force behind the Freestyle Libre, was trained in design thinking. And because we live with diabetes, we already possess an incredible amount of knowledge about the problems of living with diabetes. Products such as Timesulin, mySugr and MedAngel were all developed by people with diabetes.
Luckily, my app idea was selected as one of the Novo Nordisk Innovation Challenge winners and I’m hoping to have it ready by the end of the year. It turns out that the judges liked how passionate I was about improving diabetes care and my level of understanding about diabetes – I live with diabetes, I assume most of us with diabetes are passionate about improving care and possess an incredible understanding of what living with diabetes is like.
Do you have an idea?
Another cool thing about patient-led innovation is that people want to help you. They instantly understand why you’re trying to improve diabetes care and trust that you understand the problem. If you do have an idea, feel free to reach out and I’d be happy to help in any way I can. Innovation is an exciting world and we need more patient innovators who understand the problems, and Novo Nordisk are running their Innovation Challenge again later this year.