Managing diabetes is complicated. You need a base understanding of what the disease is doing inside your body – how it behaves, what keeps it in check, and what it can do to you. Without this, you wouldn’t even know where to begin (or why you should want to manage it). You also have to be motivated. You have to believe management is within your control. Otherwise, what’s the point in even trying? You have to realize there are things you can do – however small – that can impact how it behaves. Lastly, you have to know what to do. You need to learn the skills to be able to manage it. You need to believe you can actually do it.
You might be asking yourself how people with diabetes get along with the disease. How do they manage the day-to-day demands placed on them? How do they make decisions that will help them be as healthy as possible? And the answer is that some people do manage the disease every day, taking it into consideration as they make choices for themselves. But others may deliberately ignore it, or may not even realize it’s something that requires their attention.
We know that close to 95% of diabetes management falls on the shoulders of patients, and we wanted to figure out a way to reach them where they are. Daily challenges come up that are difficult to manage. By building patients’ skills, we can help them take the actions necessary to most optimally manage their disease.
Patients are constantly on the go, so providing them with something that would not only accomplish the above disease management goals but also fit into a busy lifestyle was critical. Creating an app was the logical choice. When we looked at apps currently available, what we found were a lot of trackers and programs focused purely on information dissemination. What was missing was the behavioral component to help patients actually make and sustain the desired changes. Trackers are great for keeping logs of eating habits, exercise, and even blood glucose. But not much more.
And so the Time2Focus diabetes mobile app was born. We’re in the midst of putting the final touches on what will be a groundbreaking phone app to help patients with type 2 diabetes more successfully navigate the ins and outs of the disease, make educated and empowered decisions on a daily basis, and be able to work around real-world obstacles that stand in their way.
The 12-week program is grounded in the behavioral concept of problem solving. In simple terms, this is all about helping patients learn how to apply their own understanding of their diabetes to handle new situations that arise. It requires that patients not only understanding their disease and learn key skills, but also are able to apply what they’ve learned to new diabetes-related situations that come up (which happen every day) so they can work around these new obstacles and stay on track.
We’re also using gamification principles to help keep patients motivated and engaged. We’ve designed challenges that not only test knowledge, but ask patients to rely on their new disease understanding and experiences to navigate obstacles. Patients are challenged to apply new concepts and make choices within the app that mimic real-world situations.
As the Time2Focus program development nears completion, we’re gearing up for a clinical trial to test its efficacy among over 100 people living with type 2 diabetes. Patients will spend 12 weeks participating in the program building their problem solving skills and ultimately making improvements in their diabetes health. In addition to behavioral outcome measures, we’ll also be measuring change in HbA1c.
Stay tuned for more details as the app continues to progress.(Read full post)
So I had an interesting conversation with my grandmother last week. We chatted away for hours about love, recipes and caught up on the hometown gossip. Just as we were about to say our goodbyes, she asked me in a puzzling tone, “Corliss what is it that you really do at work all day?” I wasn’t expecting such a question. Sure, I knew there would be questions about when will I get married or when the next time I will be visiting her, but I never expected a career question. Nevertheless, the question delighted me. So I jumped right into explaining the inner working of behavioral theories and how the field of public health is applicable to her everyday life. I talked in great detail about the importance of prevention and education and how behavior change takes more than just knowledge. I shared with her examples of my work and things I am working on in the near future. All of this was met with silence. I thought I had put my grandmother to sleep. And then she quietly whispered, “I see…You help people understand how to help themselves. Makes sense to me”. My whole life’s work was summed up in 8 words. I am a behaviorist at MicroMass and I help people understand how to help themselves.(Read full post)
It’s a new month and at MicroMass Communications that means we appreciate a new color – colors often reflected in awareness ribbons. You’ve all seen them: pink for breast cancer, red for AIDS, the puzzle for autism.
While ribbons are often associated with medical conditions, their origin is actually not rooted in disease awareness. The use of ribbons as awareness symbols in the United States can be traced back to 1979 and the Iran Hostage Crisis. Inspired by the Tony Orlando and Dawn hit “Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Ole Oak Tree,” the wife of one of the hostages tied yellow ribbons around trees near her home to symbolize her hope for his safe return home. Friends and the country followed suit and the yellow ribbon became a symbol of American resolve for the safe return of the hostages. In the 1990’s, the use of awareness ribbons exploded into a cultural phenomenon. In 1991, the yellow ribbon was revitalized as a symbol in support of the military during the Gulf War. That same year, inspired by the yellow ribbons honoring deployed soldiers, AIDS activists chose a red ribbon to symbolize the fight against AIDS. The red ribbon became popular overnight after it was worn by actor Jeremy Irons at the Tony awards. The pink ribbon for breast cancer awareness was introduced soon thereafter by the Susan G Komen Breast Cancer Foundation. By 1992, the use of awareness ribbons had been so broadly adopted that the New York Times declared 1992 as the “Year of the Ribbon.”
Today, there are awareness ribbons representing over 200 causes. We choose to wear (literally or figuratively) the ribbons that reflect things about us – things we’ve conquered, things we are proud of, remembrances of or support for family and friends, causes we support. The yellow ribbon was the first ribbon I “wore.” We tied a yellow ribbon around a tree in our yard during the Iran Hostage Crisis. I wore yellow again in honor of my brother who was deployed after 9/11 and then later to Iraq. Over the years, I have accumulated more ribbons: purple as a cancer survivor; red and white for deep vein thrombosis awareness; black for melanoma awareness; teal, pink, and blue for thyroid cancer awareness; silver for Parkinson’s disease awareness; orange for childhood cancer awareness; green for bone marrow transplantation and donation.
So, what color is your ribbon? Or maybe you wear more than one. This month at MicroMass we will “wear” cobalt blue for colorectal cancer awareness in honor of National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month. And in the spirit of disease education and awareness – get more information at http://www.ccalliance.org/.(Read full post)
Recently I read this really cool article about creating a mini storage house using old wooden pallets. The best part to me is the idea that we could use them to help build refugee camps. FACT: 84% of the world’s refugees could be housed with a year’s supply of recycled American pallets. Just based off a year and a half year of pallet production in the US alone, 33 million refugee could live in a Pallet House.
Click this link to see photos and read the story:
I recycled an old pallet to make inserts for nightstands. Pretty snazzy. The frame of the nightstand is an old gate from New York City.(Read full post)
By Kim Byrd and Kelly Hutchinson
So, as MMC employees we are in the process of renewing our healthcare benefits. We had our open enrollment meetings yesterday and we learned that our plan Actuarial Value is 85.4 % ……which means when we are hanging out with our friends at a barbecue, we have a GOLD PLUS plan in comparison to others. Yeah, you’re jealous now and we don’t blame you. MicroMass pays the majority of our insurance premiums for medical and dental and they also pay 100% for our life and disability benefits.
BUT WAIT THERE IS MORE!
We have free snacks, free beverages, free ADULT beverages, free concierge services, discounted warehouse club memberships, a free onsite fitness facility, summer hours, flexible schedules, FUNNOVATION events and lunch-n-learns via expert engagements with Sparkology.
We have ROCKING off site parties at The Royal, bridal showers, baby showers and birthday lunches. Us single folks are anxiously waiting for the “still single and proud” parties….just saying.
There are so many other great benefits that we have such as the friendships we have made, the collaboration among different disciplines and the fact that our employer continues to invest in our personal & professional development. Jealous? Send us your resume email@example.com .(Read full post)
Picture it. Summer. 1994. I’m galloping through an open field (just like in the movies), and the horse I’m riding decides to go back to the stable for a snack. Without me. He bucks. I fall. The horse leaves me to die of a broken thumb in the field. Thanks a lot, horsie.
My father is called, and, when he arrives he is not impressed with my injury. He says it’s just a sprain, but I’ve seen this sort of thing on TV, so I know that when you can’t MOVE your finger it’s not a sprain. It might be helpful at this point to mention that my dear father is a doctor.
If you’re also a doctor’s kid, you know the drill. Your concerns are going to be ignored, you’re going to be told that you’re fine, and you’re going to have to make a federal case out of this injury to get any kind of real medical attention.
Wait, now. That sounds a lot like what it’s like to be treated as *gasp* an ordinary patient. Thanks a lot, Dad.
Lucky for me, I had several days to plead my case and insist on an x-ray, but most people have to accomplish everything in one office visit, which is maybe 15 minutes long. That thought crosses my mind a lot at work—especially when I’m encouraging patients to talk to their doctor. It’s a tall order and it’s much easier said than done.
Even the most outgoing, assertive person can turn into a mute once that little paper gown is on. Doctors can be intimidating, but they mean well, so be pleasantly persistent. Your job, as a patient, is to help your doctor help you. Speak up because, according to a recent CNN health article , having your concerns brushed off can be hazardous to your health.
The first step to achieving a productive, healthy, awesome relationship with your doctor? You guessed it—start talking to your doctor. Really talk. Take a list of questions. Take a homemade video of your symptoms. Start sentences with phrases like, “Dr. Oz says…” Whatever you do, don’t just sit there. You’re paying good money to talk to your doctor, so chat it up. We know it can be tricky. But you can do it. And you should do it. Your health may depend on it.(Read full post)
Since the 2nd century AD, humans have been fascinated by one thing: ourselves.
Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius’s To Myself (Τὰ εἰς ἑαυτόν), written around 180 AD, is one of the first existing diaries ever written. Today, most of us have smartphones for life-logging and many even have technology that keeps track of our lives for us. (I have been wearing a FitBit for the past few weeks. This device records the number of steps I take, calories I burn throughout the day, and other data.)
The digital age has made the process of recording everything we do even easier, and the Quantified Self movement, as it has come to be known, is gaining in popularity. We may bemoan our friends instagramming their every bite and tweeting their every trip to the gas station. However, there are some useful applications of these activities for the management of chronic diseases.
In conditions like diabetes it is known as self-monitoring: paying attention to changes in symptoms and other data like blood glucose levels or the effects of medications. Patients and their providers can use information gathered through self-monitoring to make treatment decisions and reinforce positive behaviors. For example, if a patient with diabetes feels more energetic and sees their blood glucose levels drop when they stick to a healthy diet, they may be more likely to make that lifestyle change a habit.
So whatever your opinion on life logging, it isn’t going away anytime soon. Let’s just hope we use our obsession with ourselves for good.(Read full post)
The country’s largest drugstore chain has made a decision to stop selling cigarettes and other tobacco products by October. This move has been applauded by an assortment of people ranging from the Secretary of Health and Human Services to some local healthcare providers, to name a few. The news also comes with a bit of skepticism, considering that if people don’t get their tobacco products from CVS, there are a number of other places that would welcome their business, such as a local convenience store or other chain pharmacies.
While the impact of this decision leaves much to be debated, there’s a hint of behavior science behind it that really gets me excited. You’re excited too, you just don’t know yet! CVS is contributing to the idea of stimulus control. It is a behavioral strategy to reduce environmental characteristics or situations that serve to trigger maladaptive behaviors, such as smoking. Removing tobacco products, may remove a few triggers. Less triggers, may make it a little easier to stop smoking. Whatever the impact may be, it is definitely in the right track. Maybe years from now, we can look back at this moment and think it was only the beginning to something great!(Read full post)
Yesterday, the NYT featured a story on the genetic testing of embryos to help ensure a deadly disease-causing gene would not get passed on to a couple’s unborn children. Having recently had a child myself, I can understand this family’s desire to protect their children from something that would likely cause suffering and premature death. The genetic testing process resulted in the birth of three children who are free of the gene. The comments run the gamut – some people praise the family for what they’ve done, but others question it. Some comments condemn the mother (who carries the gene) for being irresponsible for bringing children into the world knowing that there’s a good possibility she’ll die before they grow up.
The family indicated that they’ll share what the disease is all about with the kids and how it may affect their mother so that everyone is better prepared for what may happen in the future.
I found this interesting when looking at it from a behavioral perspective. There is clearly a lot of debate around whether or not it was ethical to hand-select embryos. I was even more interested in the thought process surrounding this woman’s choice to know whether or not she was a carrier of a gene that would likely cause early death. At the age of 26, she learned her fate.
How do you live knowing you might have just 5, 10, or maybe 20 healthy years to go? But on the flip side, how do you live as a 26 year old with the uncertainty of whether or not you only have a handful of good years left? How do you plan for the future?
As a behaviorist, this presents an interesting scenario. Knowing she was a carrier greatly increased this woman’s perceptions of control over so many aspects of her life. She felt like she was better able to make choices for herself and her family, feels like she’ll be better able to prepare her children to deal with what may come, and clearly values the need to set expectations for those around her.
Would you want to know whether you carried a gene like this? Would the control you gain from knowing this be empowering or paralyzing?(Read full post)
The Thanksgiving festivities are just days away. Whether, your holiday is spent doing your favorite traditions or creating new ones, I am sure it will involve food. Who am I kidding? There will be a massive amount of food. In fact, if your family is anything like mine, you will be greeted with savory dishes decorating the dining room table and mind-blowing aromas singing happy tunes up your nose. While I am sure, the words diets and carbs are outlawed during the festive holiday, what about behavior? Here at MMC, our goal is to change behavior, not to get people through a holiday but for a lifetime. What if people everywhere incorporated portion control and healthy eating into their lifestyle, all year long? What if we were programmed to automatically make the healthy choice when it comes to food? Every day, we are given the opportunity to make behavior changes that can stay with us forever. It may not be easy and we will probably have to take it one step at a time. But we can do it! Let’s make the decision to change our eating behaviors today. So when Thanksgiving greets us next year, we can treat it like all the other days on the calendar, healthy!(Read full post)