DIABETES SUPPORT GROUPS

Goal   I looked into diabetes support groups to find opportunities in healthcare design at IIT. This is an ongoing interest for me. I meet regularly with support groups, healthcare and insurance leaders, providers, and designers in the diabetes space.

My role   I began this research at Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT) and it is an ongoing project for me. I am type 1, and use diabetes devices: an insulin pump, and a continuous glucose monitor.

Research and audiences  

  • Attend peer-led groups held in people’s homes and public spaces, and provider-led groups in hospitals.

  • Visit patients in their homes to observe routines in care of their condition, device use, how families and friends interact. 

  • Secondary research and contextual inquiry into the benefits of support and detriment of having no support.

  • Interview endocrinologists, internal medicine/general physicians, device salespeople, people with diabetes, their friends and caregivers  

With A Partnership of Diabetics (A-POD) in Minneapolis, I presented examples of data which is collected from support group attendees to a Longfellow neighborhood clinic (near APOD meetings). Each physician was interested in feeding patients through the support group to create a feedback loop with their doctors. 

I presented the feedback loop idea to HealthPartners, and connected physicians there with A-POD. 

Findings   

  • Providers see the benefit of support groups•

  • Provider-led groups have few patients attending often

  • Chronic condition patients are comfortable in peer-led groups, ask more questions and learn more, make connections 

  • Most diabetics and chronic condition patients don’t have basic information to effectively care for their condition, don’t know where to find it, and do not feel empowered or knowledgeable enough to adjust their daily care as needed. 

  • Opportunity spaces for insurance to reduce costs, industry to encourage patient advocacy, patients to live healthier lives, and careproviders to become more effective in diabetics’ lives.