How Glooko employees learn diabetes

How does Glooko, an insights-driven digital health platform that combines mobile self-management with clinical coaching, gain insight into the world of diabetes?  How do the product managers, software engineers, and marketing folks understand a disease that varies from person-to-person? One word: empathy.

Glooko employees constantly look for ways to understand diabetes: the diagnosis experience, blood sugar maintenance, social stigma, and data fatigue. Glooko employees without diabetes will sometimes test their blood sugar while using Glooko to understand the complexity of finger pricking, carb counting, and (simulated) insulin delivery. We are all issued our own lancet and BG meters when we start working at Glooko to see how our blood sugar changes during the course of the day. Employees are also encouraged to go one step further and use other devices like CGMs or pumps. Our chief medical officer will put some employees on a simulated two-week diabetes regimen. For that period the employee uses Glooko for two weeks, while checking his/her blood sugar at least six times daily, simulating the administration of insulin and oral medication, and recording their daily exercise and carbohydrate intake to understand the lifestyle changes needed for people living with diabetes. After the two weeks, they present their findings to the company and share both their experiences with the software and their feelings about trying to manage their simulated diabetes.

Many Glooko employees either have diabetes or a strong personal connection due to either a family member or close friend. To foster a constant learning environment, we started a company-wide storytelling series where employees share their personal diabetes stories with the company. Participants share their own stories or those of friends and family members during monthly brown-bag lunches. In a recent session, we learned what teenagers and college students go through when being diagnosed with type 1 diabetes; how friends can be the ultimate support network when a young college student is newly diagnosed with type 2 diabetes and doesn’t understand how to control her blood sugar; and the experience of a friend who is struggling with staying in range and starting to experience side effects: issues with her sight, numb feet, etc.

In addition to the learning opportunities described above, Glooko also hosts volunteer events for those who want to further understand diabetes from a clinical and social perspective. There are quarterly clinical study review sessions where volunteers review a published study and a designated leader facilitates a discussion among peers. The discussion challenges participants to dissect the content and understand the impact, both clinically and commercially, on people with diabetes, care teams, and healthcare administrators.

Finally, during national diabetes month each year in November, we line up a series of educational events such as a talk by Adam Brown, author of the book “Bright Spots and Landmines,” a book club reading of “The Discovery of Insulin,” and a movie night to discuss how diabetes is often represented in film. This year we are watching Panic Room (2002).

Employees at Glooko are always looking for ways to understand the world of diabetes care, which gives them some insights into their own health as well.