How a Microsoft MVP is Managing Diabetes Using the Power Platform

Post Date: 04/22/2022
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It’s no secret that the Power Platform can be used for many different applications. One of the more unique ones comes in the form of a meal tracking app that helps those with diabetes monitor their diet and glucose intake.

In this week’s episode of #O365 Hours I sat down with Microsoft MVP Haniel Croitoru to discuss how creating this handy app via the Power Platform has had a massive impact on the life of his daughter and family overall, as well as what he plans to do with the technology in the future. Watch our discussion below or read the full transcript at your convenience!

Guest: Haniel Croitoru, Associate Director & Power Platform Practice Lead at Protiviti (visit his website here)

Topics Covered:

  • Organizations today want to empower employees to solve their business and technical problems on their own, but in a secure and managed way. That’s one of the reasons why Power Platform usage has taken off – because it provides no-code and low-code options for employees to identify a need and create solutions that fill a gap. Haniel shares a personal story about creating an app for his daughter. 
  • Building upon this experience, how does the solution you created scale? Within the enterprise, an employee builds a solution using the Power Platform that fills a gap, but they want to share it. What are the steps, what are the considerations?

You have a personal story about filling a gap with the creation of an app for your daughter. Would you mind sharing?

HC: Absolutely. So typically, I spend most of my time helping clients solve their own business problems. But last summer one of my daughters actually was diagnosed with diabetes. It was a complete shock to us. We had no idea how to deal with it, so you can just imagine what kind of a life changer that was for all of us at the time. She was 10 years old and all of a sudden learning to live with this condition that she needs to tend to every day, multiple times a day. It basically involves measuring your blood glucose multiple times a day, giving yourself insulin shots, and making sure you give just the right amount, because if your glucose levels are too high or too low it can be dangerous.

There are devices out there today that can help. For instance, everybody is probably familiar with the little finger pricking device where you take some blood and it gives you a blood glucose reading within a couple of seconds. There’re others that also do a decent job. But one of the biggest things for my daughter was every time she wanted to eat a meal, she would have to literally go through every item that she’s about to put in her mouth, determine how many carbs it has, how much sugar it has, and start making calculations around how much insulin she needs to take. You can imagine how frustrating this would be for a hungry child who just wants to sit and eat.

There are a lot of websites out there today that allow you to look up nutritional information such as the amount of carbs, glucose, vitamins, etc. in certain foods. Since I already did similar things for my clients, I built her a small app where she’s able to compose a meal using data pulled from nutrition ax, something commonly used by the dieticians. The app makes it easy because it knows all of her parameters and can tell her, “Okay, this is how much insulin you should be taking.”

If you were to make this as an actual product, you would have to be really careful about giving medical advice. So, it just states numbers based on her criteria. My wife then prepares meals for her based on these calculations. All my daughter has to do is select the meal. So it’s a big time saver for us all and helps us maintain her health, because without it she’d be in trouble.

Of course, there’s still a ton more research that’s being done. There’s specifically a hospital in Toronto (where I’m from) that’s doing a ton of valuable research and innovation on diabetes and insulin. My hope with this tool that I built for my daughter is that it’ll help the research community to find better solutions of how to determine certain patterns in children. If they eat certain foods that have, say, a high glycemic index, it’d be great to actually be able to determine certain patterns and maybe even use some artificial intelligence for that.

CB: Right. Existing apps even help when you’re shopping so you can plan meals in advance with the proper portions. It’s great to have the tools around that, but what’s missing from a lot of those other apps (that’s built into yours) is capturing that data for further research purposes. You’ll be able to look for patterns among seasons, age ranges, different parts of the country, good types, and so on.

So where does this go from here? Have you talked to anybody about expanding this and doing something with the solution that you’ve built?

HC: Yeah. So, I did actually share my idea with some of my contacts at Microsoft who are leading the market in Canada, and they’re very excited to help participate. I built the tool for my daughter, but what if I shared it with another family from her school? What about, you know, an entire study across multiple patients who may be from all over Toronto, or Canada, or even the world?

Hopefully that’ll soon start to roll out into other families and households, and when it does ensuring security will be of the utmost importance. Building the security to where every patient is anonymized will be key. It’ll be boiled down to a number so data can be collected about different demographics (age, gender, etc.) but there will be no way to identify who the patient is. Those are the kinds of things that I love about the Product Platform; it’s easy to build those kinds of security guidelines without exposing too much information while still giving you the functionality that you need.

CB: So, if you were to make this generally available, what would the next step be with that? If you do solve this, you want to make this available. Do you just make the template for the app available out on the website, or what’s your path to sharing this?

HC: So, I think the right path is going to be working with the hospital I mentioned earlier. If they’re going to be on board, it’d be to have them communicate to their patients that this is now becoming available. And then any patient who wants to sign on would get a Microsoft 365 account, download the power app, click on the button, and use it as they see fit. There would obviously have to be a registration process, but it shouldn’t be too complicated. Some things will be different between patients, of course, such as the type of insulin they use, the dosages they take, and so on, but it has to be configurable. The hospital that looks at it from a macro lens should be able to tell what kinds of pattern there are regardless of the details, and if they want to dive into the details they will be able to do so. I’d love to have a beautiful Power BI dashboard that can let you drill down into those details.

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An Office Apps & Services MVP and Microsoft Regional Director, Christian Buckley is an internationally recognized author and speaker and runs the community-focused CollabTalk blog, podcast, and tweetjam series.

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