Children's Diabetes Management


Swing Product-Service Ecology

Type 1 Childhood Diabetes Management



Graduate work
Advised by Hugh Dubberly
4 weeks, 2017


Service Designer
(solo project)


Systems thinking
Conceptual modeling


This project used systems thinking to understand the current state of management for a chronic illness, and to design a future state product-service ecology to improve the quality of life for both patients and their caregivers. 

Type 1 diabetes is a chronic illness where the patient's pancreas is unable to produce insulin, a hormone that regulates blood glucose levels. This illness typically develops in childhood or adolescence.  

Through nine year old Aspen's story, I gained an understanding and perspective that enabled me to identify and address her and her family's challenges in managing her illness. 



Aspen will be managing her diabetes every day, for the rest of her life. How might we enable Aspen and her parents to co-manage her diabetes more easily and effectively?


current statE

It was necessary to first understand the current state of type 1 diabetes management and identify pain points for children with diabetes and their caregivers.

Below is a walk through of a typical morning breakfast routine for Aspen. This is just breakfast. Aspen goes through this process for every meal, before and after physical activities, once before bed and sometimes in the middle of the night. This is an illness she will be managing every day for the rest of her life.



aspen's breakfast routine


Swings in Blood glucose levels

Managing diabetes is a balancing act of insulin, food and exercise. Below is a representational graph showing swings in blood glucose (BG) level over the course of a day, comparing a child with and without diabetes. BG typically increases after meals and drops after physical activities. It is also common for children to have low BG levels overnight. This can be dangerous and is addressed by ensuring BG is kept slightly high prior to bedtime as well as with long-acting insulin therapy. 

Even with insulin therapy, it is evident that it can be difficult for diabetics and their care givers to manage BG levels to stay within a healthy range. 

Swings in Blood Glucose levels in a typical day

current state feedback loop


Future State Product-Service Ecology

The proposed ecology uses data to tailor insulin therapy to a child's unique response to insulin intake for fewer swings in BG levels and reduced health risks.

The children's phone app not only makes management easier, but also learns how various types of food and insulin affect a child and suggests changes to therapy. By seamlessly connecting to a child's fitness tracker and BG monitor, it is able to quickly predict unhealthy BG swings and respond. 



This system map shows how the proposed product-service ecology fits into a child's diabetes management. 


children's APP conceptual model


App wireframes

SWING app for children with Type 1 diabetes allows children to self-manage their condition and promotes good habits in treating their chronic illness. 

The app walks a child through each meal and the steps they need to take in managing their blood glucose level. This includes calculating the amount of carbs in their meal, initiating the insulin pump for intake, and waiting for the insulin to take effect. The SWING app walks the child through each of these steps. 


                 icons by Freepik, flaticon.com

                 icons by Freepik, flaticon.com



The Chatbot feature allows the child to log how they are feeling throughout the day. The chatbot is automatically triggered when it senses anything irregular or if a child forgets to log their activities. This feedback from the child is critical in improving the insulin therapy. The chatbot is able to alert caregivers as necessary, and the data is used to suggest insulin dose updates.


companion app

The companion app allows caregivers to check in on child's diabetes management and get alerts for suggestions on insulin therapy changes.