Improving Life: The Next to Change Healthcare

A new app in development at Florida Polytechnic University could be a game changer for people with diabetes.

The app serves as a personal assistant of sorts for diabetics by reminding them to check their blood glucose levels, providing them personalized reports to chart their habits and, perhaps most importantly, a social environment for emotional support. It’s especially beneficial for newly diagnosed patients still figuring out all the demands of their illness, explains Jacob Livingston, of Sebring, a junior earning an Advanced Technology degree.

“We wanted to create something that would improve the quality of life for diabetics, but not add to the already high cost of continuous care,” Jacob says.

The app is under construction as part of the Implementation of Electronic Health Records class, taught by Dr. Susan LeFrancois. While Dr. LeFrancois leads them through the fundamentals of health informatics, students enjoy the input of David Turner, senior vice president of software engineering and chief technology officer at Bravado Health. The West Palm Beach-based company is a nationally recognized leader in emergency medicine applications and services.

“The students have really benefited from David’s insights and experience. He has experience developing software in all the niche healthcare markets, from acute care to rehab therapy,” Dr. LeFrancois says.

From the students’ perspective, the strongest feature of the app is its capability to directly incorporate data into an existing electronic health record for diabetic patients.  Patients can then use the app to connect with people who have similar problems and struggle with the everyday management of their chronic condition. For example, if a person with diabetes doesn’t know how to change their diet or adopt an exercise plan, they can connect with friends or other people experiencing similar issues.

“The point of this application is to provide social support and improve diabetics’ quality of life,” Dr. LeFrancois says.

Figuring out how to bring that idea to life, while having it work across multiple smartphone operating systems, was a challenge for the students. David provided an introductory code for students to practice with and modify to develop the app. With time, they overcame their frustration and intimidation to produce the finished result.

“The students’ attitudes toward the project completely changed,” Dr. LeFrancois says. “They went from doubting their abilities to complete engagement in the project’s successful outcome.”

Jacob says the experience has been extremely helpful as the students do their part to show that diabetes can be something containable as part of a healthy lifestyle.

“This industry is growing so fast. This experience will help me stay at the cutting edge as I move into a career,” Jacob says.

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