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Fredrik Debong

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May 17, 2013

The goal of mySugr, motivating us with diabetes to care

May 17, 2013 | By | 9 Comments

We are often asked what led us to create mySugr and develop our first commercially available app – the mySugr Companion. It becomes clear, I think, if you look back at our lives. What drove our efforts initially was that we needed motivation to handle our own diabetes!

How it All Started

mySugr was founded on first-hand experience of living with diabetes – two of the founders have had type 1 diabetes since their youth. Frank, our CEO, was diagnosed as a teenager and has now lived as a type 1 diabetic for about 15 years. I (Fredrik) was diagnosed at the age of 4. My experience with different forms of therapy goes back three decades. As a rough estimate, that means I have completed about 75,000 blood glucose tests and injected 1.5 litres of insulin.

Modern diabetes therapy is data-driven; based on knowledge and experience, we can make better decisions and have longer and healthier lives. Theoretically, this shouldn’t be so hard.

As you know, many of us with diabetes feel somewhat overwhelmed at some point after diagnosis. After a few years, it becomes exhausting to keep it up. At the age of 20, after 15 years with diabetes, I simply let go. I lacked the positive feedback – that feeling of achievement we sometimes need if we are to keep doing something. Therapy to me had become an eternal grind; I understood my diabetes therapy reasonably well, I had decent tools, but my attitude suffered. Depending on my blood sugar results I felt either lucky or like an idiot. I felt so frustrated that I stopped taking care of myself. During this time, I wasn’t testing much nor paying attention to what I was eating. It went on for almost three years. What brought me back to paying attention, were a few small things I started to see and do differently.I started rewarding myself in small ways for doing things I knew I was supposed to be doing, like checking my blood glucose a bit more frequently.

Motivated by Feeling our Progress

At mySugr we believe that this is part of what all of us with diabetes need. Imagine for a second that the progress you make in your therapy could be felt. What if we could savor those positive moments and be motivated to take action by them instead of the bad stuff like fear of health complications and the associated bad conscience?

Drive the Data

In a normal diabetes journal/logbook, you plug in the numbers and are rewarded with, well… just a list of numbers really. That’s just so 80s, and about as useful to us as a submarine in the Sahara desert. In the mySugr Companion, you can search through all the data, quickly find the last burger or mixed coffee you had and see how it affected your bg’s. You can find out where a change in therapy could be needed – and perhaps there is already an in-app mySugr ‘challenge’ designed exactly for this, to lead you on your way?

If this sounds like something which could help you, please download the app and give it a try! Our family already has more than 12,000 members and is growing every day. We enjoy learning from all of you as to how mySugr can be more useful in day-to-day life with diabetes. So keep in touch and see you soon!

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Comments

  1. sue whittaker

    I was very interested in your revolutionary approach to diabete management.. Do you have an adult version. I have been labelled a ‘brittle’ diabetic with the 24/7 nightmare with so many injections and blood testing to keep blood glucose anywhere sensible. I just have to peddle into town and my sugar levels drop. I sometimes compartmentalise things but that is a bad habit. I have type 1 diabetes, diagnosed in 1960….It is wonderful for the youngsters today who sadly catch diabetes that they have up to date therapy…but grrrr still no cure…I remember having to boil my syringe, etc… Any advice to a more mature Type 1 diabetic? Sue

    • Fredrik Debong

      Hi Sue!
      Must be a hassle, have you tried using a CGM to help you catch the peaks and drops? It must have been such a challenge back then! Wow! You have my sincere respect!

      Totally agree on our wait for the cure! I was told that I wouldn’t have to wait that long, as I was diagnosed in 1984 ;) Now we decided to help where we can, which is why we set up our challenge with JDRF – support where you can, don’t you agree?

      mySugr Companion was made for us adults, Junior for the little ones and their families. As long as you have a playful mind, the mySugr Companion should work out for your needs. The oldest user I know is an awesome lady from Germany at the age of 70-something (she AND her cat have t1d), she has been using the app for over a year now :)

      Please let me know how you and your monster get along? You can reach me at fredrik@mysugr.com! I am looking forward to getting to know you :)

      Fredrik

      • “Now we decided to help where we can, which is why we set up our challenge with JDRF – support where you can, don’t you agree?”

        Can you tell me more about what that challenge is? I’m not a fan of the JDRF which seems singularly focused on the needs of adolescents and their parents.

        • Scott Johnson

          Thanks for the comment, Khürt! I’m sure that Fredrik will reply too, but I wanted to toss my two cents in as well.

          We usually have at least one partner challenge going with JDRF where each challenge win increases the donation mySugr makes to JDRF at the end of each month. You can see which ones are partner challenges by looking for the partner badges in the challenge menu.

          I also think a lot has changed with JDRF over the past few years. I was honored with an invitation to their 2011 Government Day and learned some things that changed my opinion quite a bit. I’ll link to this old blog post, where the stuff most relevant to your comment is in the last few paragraphs prior to the cheesy picture. :-)

          There’s also a lot of content from JDRF themselves around the rebrand (going to just JDRF instead of Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation).

          Hope that helps a bit, Khürt! Please keep the great questions and comments coming.

  2. John

    This looks great, but when is an Android version going to be available?

  3. Fredrik Debong

    Hi John! Thanks a lot for the props, we hope that every release makes the app even greater :)

    As you can imagine, android is ooooh pretty high up on our list! We’re working on that now and hope to be able to release an Android version of mySugr Companion towards autumn 2013.

    If you wish, you could sign up to help us out a bit? Simply head over to http://bit.ly/sugrdroids and we’ll get in touch as fast as we are ready to start showing the app to you and others outside of mySugr!

    Looking forward to getting to know you,
    Fredrik

  4. I’m a Pediatric Diabetes doctor and work with lots of awesome happy families and many frustrated families as well. I really appreciate your insight in this blog and am thrilled to see an app that provides some useful and positive feedback for families living with diabetes! I know many of the kids/teens will appreciate the CEOs’ personal experience with diabetes in both how it’s reflected in the app and through your blog. We also LOVE LOVE the Junior version that links to the parent app. Really wonderful idea and might result in a little less of that parental nagging!

    We’ve been playing with this app for just a couple of days and already LOVE it. In fact, we just made it the featured app on our diabetes website: http://www.uwhealthkids.org/diabetesapps

    Thank you.

    Jennifer L. Rem, MD
    Assistant Professor
    Department of Pediatrics, Division of Endocrinology and Diabetes
    University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health
    UW American Family Children’s Hospital – Madison

    • Fredrik Debong

      Hi Jen!
      Oh that’s great to hear, thank you so much for taking such a deep look at what we do and how it can help your patients and their families. It is super encouraging to us!

      If you ever have any questions, or ideas on how we can become even better then please do not hesitate to reach out: fredrik@mysugr.com.

      By the way, soon mySugr Junior will also be available on iOS and work across both platforms so that kids with Androids and parents with iPhones can manage it better together.

      I love it how you mention that parents maybe will nag less, which is one of our main goals – make it fun, instead of a chore. If we can change this little facet of the philosophy of diabetes management it is a great win for us with diabetes!

      Have a wonderful day,
      Fredrik

  5. Thanks for sharing! I had quite the same feelings as you, with the decreasing motivation and with feeling either lucky or an idiot. What gave me more motivation was my first time with a CGM. It just revealed so much more.

    Feeling stupid was just due to not having enough data to draw any conclusions from. Now I want to get more and more data available, to make even better conclusions.

    I also blogged about my experiences recently at http://blog.sensotrend.com/2013/08/making-sense-of-trends-part-12.html.

    P.S. I’m also waiting for the Android version of Companion, and the availability of the app in Finland.

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