Numerous mobile applications have been developed to support diabetes-self-management. However, the majority of these applications lack a theoretical foundation and the involvement of people with diabetes during development. The aim of this study was to develop and test a mobile application (app) supporting diabetes self-management among people with newly diagnosed type 2 diabetes using design thinking.
The app was developed and tested in 2015 using a design-based research approach involving target users (individuals newly diagnosed with type 2 diabetes), research scientists, healthcare professionals, designers, and app developers. The research approach comprised three major phases: inspiration, ideation, and implementation. The first phase included observations of diabetes education and 12 in-depth interviews with users regarding challenges and needs related to living with diabetes. The ideation phrase consisted of four interactive workshops with users focusing on app needs, in which ideas were developed and prioritized. Finally, 14 users tested the app over 4 weeks; they were interviewed about usability and perceptions about the app as a support tool.
A multifunctional app was useful for people with newly diagnosed type 2 diabetes. The final app comprised five major functions: overview of diabetes activities after diagnosis, recording of health data, reflection games and goal setting, knowledge games and recording of psychological data such as sleep, fatigue, and well-being. Users found the app to be a valuable tool for support, particularly for raising their awareness about their psychological health and for informing and guiding them through the healthcare system after diagnosis.
The design thinking processes used in the development and implementation of the mobile health app were crucial to creating value for users. More attention should be paid to the training of professionals who introduce health apps.
Trial registration: Danish Data Protection Agency: 2012-58-0004. Registered 6 February 2016.