Imagine helping your child with five to ten injections per day. Then there’s the calculation of carbohydrates—each meal. Every snack. Every day.

Not to mention the emotional and physical highs and lows you see your child go through.

It’s a whirlwind that is the day-to-day challenge of being a parent to a child with Type 1 Diabetes, and it is a reality that Justin Masterson knows all too well. 

Justin’s daughter has Type 1 Diabetes, a condition in which the body is unable to produce insulin.

As a chronic condition, Type 1 diabetes is manageable with the help of ongoing insulin therapy so that the body can convert sugar, starches and food into energy. As a Type 1 Diabetes parent—or T1D parent as Justin and others in the community say—he is working to find more effective interventions and better ways to manage Type 1 Diabetes. His goal is to help other families likes his across the nation. 

More than 3 million Americans are living with Type 1 Diabetes. In Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana, the rate of diabetes is higher than the nation’s average. 

Justin is the Global Director of Accounts at Cincinnati-based Seek Company, where he works on projects helping Seek's customers uncover and design against the drivers for customer behavior. Drawing on his background as an innovator and his personal experience with his daughter, Justin joined a community of more than 60 people all looking to discover non-pharmaceutical interventions that will improve health outcomes for T1D patients. The group consists of patients, innovators, physicians, clinicians, inventors and even thought leaders in the diabetes ecosystem, all of whom have all been touched by or affected by T1D. The group met in Cincinnati for a two-day workshop in April of this year to kick-off the T1D innovation challenge.

“Our community integration workshop was based around core tenets of quality improvement, used with design thinking principles, all to improve patient lives,” says Justin. “There is a tremendous amount of R&D being done on pharmaceutical and device innovations, but innovation in the care process is slow and often under-resourced. This group is one of a series of breakthrough collaborations modeled in other disease states that brings together clinicians, patients, caregivers, innovation specialists, technology specialists, and others, and is designed to create truly patient/caregiver-relevant interventions that can be tested and developed quickly,” he says. The group has now named the project the T1D Collaborative Chronic Care Network (C3N) Project.

Justin knew the innovation process needed to continue after the workshop. He wanted a way to let the group collaborate on an ongoing basis to share research, discuss potential solutions, and add more people to the community as they were identified. Justin turned to Batterii, a local startup, for support. Batterii is an innovation software that makes it easy for teams to collect inspiration and work across disciplines. Batterii’s CEO Kevin Cummins didn’t hesitate to help. He provided Justin the licenses and support he needed to get the community launched and on their way to redefine the way care is delivered to T1D patients.

The project is the result of the close collaboration of the T1D Exchange, a national nonprofit that accelerates research that improves outcomes in Type 1 diabetes, and the Anderson Center for System Health Excellence at Cincinnati Children’s, a national leader in Quality Improvement in Health Care. Dr. Peter Margolis M.D, PhD, Cincinnati Children’s, and other design-led innovation leaders saw the opportunity to do something both brave and radical: to harness the knowledge of those across the T1D ecosystem to unlock relevant, patient-centered interventions. 

The idea that such a co-creation, or collaborative effort, could happen with such a diverse group of industry experts and leaders is groundbreaking, and it has had its challenges. So far, the process using design-thinking methodology resulted in the creation of more than 20 original and feasible intervention opportunities in only 30 days.

“We had hundreds of inspiration sources we were bringing from all over the world, and dozens of starter ideas...and tying that back to our root insights was important,” says Justin.

To synthesize and evaluate the ideas that came from the initial workshop, as well as collect new research and ideas, the team continues to use Batterii. The software will serve as the platform to give the community the tools that they need to capture research and inspiration, collaborate and solicit feedback from one another. 

“Having a platform that gets beyond a knowledge repository and allows you to do innovation has tremendous potential in healthcare and in innovation,” adds Jen Powell, a Senior Quality Improvement Consultant, who has been integral to the T1 Diabetes project coordination efforts. 

“In product design, a key component is developing personas to represent purchasers. We created these personas, and what is wonderful about the Batterii platform is it allowed us to set these up, as ideas,” she explains. With a diverse group of people able to contribute and add to ideas, they have been able to create a dedicated space to accelerate their innovation efforts, says Jen.

Justin adds that ideating and prototyping can be a massive challenge in medicine, which he has seen in contrast to his work with the food and beverage or CPG industries. Batterii is helping overcome some of those challenges. 

“There are many levels of stakeholders, and any solution in medicine can be quite complex. Batterii is a method that helped the group find connections between research, ideas, inspirations, and personas,” adds Justin. Kevin Cummins agrees, saying: “The mission of Batterii is to empower people to make a difference as creative collaborators. We envisioned being a driver to change how corporations and universities think, work, and innovate,” he says.

“We’re excited to see the impact that Batterii is having directly on improving lives.”

The work for the T1D C3N Project is far from over, Justin says, but the prototyping phase for the incremental, clinical changes has begun. The larger, system-based improvements will take more time. “The next steps for our group will be to continue learning and pushing the ideas to make change.”

Sources: National Institutes of Health, JDRF, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and America’s Health Rankings 

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Batterii is a platform designed to help cross-functional teams collaborate through the front end of the design process. The Batterii Team is made up of designers, user experience experts and developers all working to deliver a product that is used by industry leaders in CPG, Pharma, Automotive and Apparel.