The experience of finding out he had the latent autoimmune diabetes of adulthood (LADA) version of the condition was quite a shock. “I went to the doctor, they gave me the diagnosis, an insulin pen, a prescription, a pat on the back and I was out the door in six minutes,” he said.
“I was terrified and felt very much alone with this new condition. There was nobody to talk to, no one to turn to, nobody who really understood in the immediate term what I was going through. I didn’t understand the condition at all. I didn’t know why I had got it. I didn’t know what was going to happen to my family or my kids. What would they do if something happened to me? All of these terrifying thoughts started going through my head,” he said, recalling his thoughts after the six-minute visit to the doctor’s office. “My experience was so cold and disconnected. It felt so unlike healthcare.”
Then he put his situation into perspective with the massive diabetes epidemic we are seeing. There are now some 500 million people worldwide with diabetes and another 500 million people worldwide with pre-diabetes or undiagnosed diabetes.
Being a tech entrepreneur, he looked to his smartphone to download an app for diabetics to track his health. “It turned out that there wasn’t anything on the market that brought together food, medication, glucose and physical fitness activity information. There weren’t any cool devices that allowed you to extract the data from your glucose meter and put it into a programme where you could run data analytics.”
So, Jeff’s idea was simple – to bring food, medication, glucose and fitness information together in one place, allowing people to feel empowered. “Because the person who is empowered with data and information can make choices. If you can make choices, then you can manage this data-driven condition.”
That was the genesis of One Drop, whose app of the same name was launched in 2015 and today has more than one million users worldwide.
“I asked my wife if she would support me if we started another company. She thought I was crazy at first and said to me: if you can help one person with diabetes lead a better life, you should do it. So we set off to create One Drop: to transform the lives of everybody on the planet who has diabetes and a smartphone.
What makes the One Drop community unique is that members share all their data – you can see everybody’s data: how they live their lives, what medications they take. All data is anonymous, but it builds a global community of people dealing with similar challenges.
From first having just an app, One Drop has expanded its offering, bringing to the market its own wireless glucose monitor and building a diabetes educator programme into its service. “That system has now been proven through clinical studies to be more effective than any other diabetes solution currently on the market. You have digital healthcare beyond just an app, beyond lots of users that really enjoy the product. You have a system delivering health outcomes that are abnormally better than anything else on the market.”
Technology made an indelible change to healthcare and, Dachis said, the mobile phone has played a key role in starting to change the doctor- and hospital-centric view of this universe. “For seven out of 10 healthcare dollars spent worldwide, you’re looking at a chronic condition that a doctor can’t really make a difference to. It is up to the users, the patients, to make this change. If users can get access to the data, information, tools and technologies they need to make their choices, and they do access those, the outcome can be dramatic,” he said.
With the role of self-care increasing for chronic conditions, doctors and nurses are more important than ever in acute care. “Generally, the system isn’t very good at caring for the day-in, day-out chronic conditions. Individuals need to do that for themselves. When you can empower them to practise self-care, I think people will choose to do that. It’s giving them the data from the team, the tools and technologies, making it easy for people to make the right choice. I think digitisation is going to power the empowerment of individuals.”
Empowerment is in full swing already – if a tech-savvy entrepreneur gets a diabetes diagnosis today and grabs a smartphone, there is a One Drop community of one million people ready and waiting to learn from.
Jeff Dachis is the founder and CEO of diabetes management platform One Drop. Prior to that he co-founded Razorfish and was the digital marketing solutions agency’s CEO and chairman.
Tarmo Virki is the co-founder of European start-up magazine CoFounder