5 Ways To Bring Data And Design Into The Battle Against Diabetes

Dealing with the disease involves careful monitoring of diet and glucose levels, things that can only be helped by making those things more transparent. These five finalists in the Data Design Diabetes contest have found innovative ways to do that.

5 Ways To Bring Data And Design Into The Battle Against Diabetes

Diabetes is one of the most alarmingly large health epidemics in the U.S.–a whopping 25.8 million people Americans live with the disease. That’s 8.3% of the population. Sanofi US aims to impact that group (outside of its diabetes drugs) with the Data Design Diabetes challenge, an effort to bring human-center design and open data to the diabetes community. This week, Sanofi announced the five semi-finalists.


Last year, the open innovation challenge brought a number of data-driven products for diabetes out of the woodwork, including, an app that analyzes phone usage data to detect when patients are feeling down. Since its win, has raised $1.7 million in seed funding.

This time around, the challenge did things a little differently: Instead of just asking people to submit ideas on how to drive innovation in delivery of diabetes care, Sanofi first polled the public to find out what mattered most in terms of quality, delivery, and cost of diabetes care in the U.S. “They said they wanted to create tools that could make people feel in control, recognize that people want to be well and not just have symptoms addressed, and understand that diabetes is a disease that affects families, friends, and close communities,” explains Michele Polz, head of patient solutions, U.S. diabetes at Sanofi. After going through over 70 entries, the judges whittled them down to these semifinalists:


Chris Gay, CEO of LiveHealth, submitted this entry: a real-time web-based video platform that allows patients to virtually meet with dietitians, nurses, and diabetes educators both individually or in small groups. It’s a tool designed to cut down on ER visits, control glucose levels, deal with weight management, and generally improve quality of life. Before starting LiveHealth, Gay was an investment banker at Goldman Sachs.

Activity-Based Integrated Data Model

Activity-Based Integrated Data Model

This one lacks a sexy name, but it’s still useful–a database and feedback system to improve blood glucose control. It was created by Jim Stritzinger of EnduringFX.

Diabetes 3.0

Led by Aaron Neinstein, a clinical fellow in endocrinology at UCSF, this team created Diabetes 3.0–a mobile health platform that allows patients and doctors to wirelessly collect, aggregate, analyze, and view a comprehensive set of diabetes-related information. The platform, which works with a number of different devices, aims to help patients control their blood sugar.



Created by David Parpart of Socially Relevant Technology, iRetainRX is an interactive mobile system that allows patients, caregivers, and pharmacists to monitor and implement treatment plans.


n4a Diabetes Care Center

This entry from Sandra Markwood uses predictive analysis to target potential diabetes patients based on risk profile and cost patterns. These targeted patients receive services intended to stop disease progression, cut down on health care spending, and improve quality of health.

Sanofi joined up this year with Startup America Partnership to make sure that all of the semifinalists have access to the resources and tools to build an actual business. “We’re introducing a design and prototyping bootcamp for semifinalists to help teams refine user experience early on,” says Polz. In May, the two finalists will be chosen. They will go into a community of people living with diabetes to test their products. Whoever comes out on top will receive $100,000.

About the author

Ariel Schwartz is a Senior Editor at Co.Exist. She has contributed to SF Weekly, Popular Science, Inhabitat, Greenbiz, NBC Bay Area, GOOD Magazine and more.