Make the world work better

Our living services platform for better diabetes treatment

When we recruit at Fjord we look for two key qualities in all our people, regardless of the role: natural curiosity and a desire to make things better. This is because we think design should be a passion. It’s not about making things look better – it’s about making the world work better.

You can see this philosophy and love for great design play out in the solutions we provide on all our client briefs. But every now and again it surfaces naturally within our agency – not from something a client has asked us, but from a question we’ve asked ourselves.

The question here was, “with all the technology and data we have around us today, why is it still so hard to manage type 1 diabetes?” And the person asking the question was Jonas Höglund, our Service Design Director in Stockholm, whose son Max was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at the age of five.

Jonas was far from alone in asking this question. After all, almost 400 million people around the world suffer from diabetes and the families and friends of sufferers are also affected –particularly when the patient is a young child like Max, who requires constant monitoring and assessment.

However, as Jonas thought about the problem and the skills both Fjord and Accenture are able to apply to problems of this nature, he realized he is in a unique position to do something about it – not just for Max but for millions of people worldwide.

At a global Accenture Innovation event in Miami, Jonas presented an idea for using digital technology and big data to better manage diabetes care. And after successfully applying for funding through the Fjord Innovation Fund, The Fjord Fido Project was born.

When we were thinking what to name our project, we stumbled upon a story of service dogs that accompany people with diabetes. They are trained to recognize significant changes in their masters’ wellbeing, to alert and assist them as needed. This was in many ways what wewanted to achieve with the digital service we were about to create. Fido happened to be one of the first dog names that came to mind. We later discovered the Latin origin of the word means to trust or to rely on someone. These are exactly the qualities for the relationship we want future users of Fjord Fido Project to have with the digital service.

Diabetes is all about data

The project has had one key insight at its heart – managing diabetes is really about understanding and manipulating data. However, the products available to diabetes sufferers at the moment are only concerned with capturing one form of data – glucose levels at a particular moment in time. This makes the whole process very reactive – and stressful, if you discover levels are not where you expected.

What’s more, as any parent who cares for a child with diabetes knows, there are a multitude of factors that affect glucose levels and trying to keep track of them all on a daily basis is impossible without controlling every aspect of their lives – something that risks damaging relationships as they grow. In our concept development our aim has been to create a platform that could handle multiple streams of data capture and apply advanced analytics to make sense of it all.

This ambition shaped our approach to the project and gave us three key questions we wanted to explore:

– How to record factors affecting blood sugar levels

– How to identify patterns and correlations in data to learn how to better manage diabetes

– How to translate that data into something useful and meaningful

Let's throw all that data in there and make it meaningful.
Jonas Höglund Service Design Director, Fjord Stockholm

Discover, design, refine

Although this has not been a traditional client project, we have applied our experience design principles in just the same way. First up was our research phase, properly getting to understand the problem at hand. We needed to make sure we knew everything there was to know about living with diabetes and the impact it has on daily life.

We then entered our describe phase. We wanted to know about all the data available to us that would have an effect on glucose levels – from sleep patterns, hydration levels and exercise plans to environmental factors like altitude and air temperature. Thanks to advances in fitness wearables and mobile applications, there was already a lot of technology in everyday life that could help us feed the data we needed.

Taking this into account we settled on the key areas of data capture for our concept: physical activity, carbohydrate levels, blood analysis, stress levels and insulin. Focusing on these factors helped us begin to shape customer journeys, the service ecosystem and put together storyboards of how a user would experience this service concept in their everyday life.

The final stage will be to design, with the aim of producing a “proof of concept prototype” – a basic but accurate representation of the final platform to show that it was a viable design –and most importantly that it could give users critical information in a way that is clear, accessible and meaningful.

Learn, act, predict

In essence, the Fjord Fido concept is a Living Service platform that will help an individual to manage their diabetes in a way that is so far ahead of anything else on the market today. Where other solutions simply measure glucose levels at a point in time, our concept will combine personal “thick data” and environmental “big data” with advanced analytics to create a Living Service platform. In other words, the more you use it the smarter it gets.

The end result is something we hope will help people in three key ways:

To Learn

The Fjord Fido concept’s goal is to help to manage uncertainty in a diabetic’s daily life. It will help see correlations between the cause (activity, meals, insulin etc) and the effect on blood glucose levels and identify historical patterns so you’re better prepared for the future.

To Act

Having quick access to the information you need at the right time is at the core of the Fjord Fido concept. The information needs to be relevant and meaningful for the user. You shouldn’t have to be a data scientist to understand how to make use of it.

To Predict

The Fjord Fido concept currently hopes to make use of all the historical data it captures to plan for future activities – like going on a bike ride, spending the day in the office or heading out for a meal. Not only this, but it is expected that it can feed in calendar events like birthday parties and environmental factors like air temperature so the users can better understand their own situation.

The Fjord Fido project started as one designer’s plan to improve his son’s and his family’s everyday life. But as expertise from both Fjord and Accenture Health Analytics were applied it is growing into something much bigger – a solution to a worldwide problem that deserves a better treatment. We believe in the power of great design to solve huge problems and that’s why we’re always excited to bring concepts like Fjord Fido into the world.

Fjord is presenting a high-level concept of a possible medical application. With this presentation, Fjord is not intending to market or to offer the described product for consumer use or comment on the effectiveness or safety of the described product for purposes of any diagnosis or treatment of diabetes. Further, the described product has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration or similar regulatory agency. Fjord will be working closely to ensure that any product resulting from this effort is developed, marketed and distributed in compliance with all applicable laws.