Medtronic: Full Version

The Challenge

For a two-week school project, our three-member team proposed a new offering for Medtronic, a medical devices company, to help people with diabetes better manage their condition.

The Solution

M+, an app for teens with diabetes.

Blood glucose level Trends/Carbs  Tips/detail Community Library


The Business

Medtronic logo

Medtronic’s MiniMed 530G
Medtronic’s MiniMed 530G

Medtronic makes insulin pumps, continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) systems, and blood glucose meters. Medtronic’s MiniMed® 530G insulin pump has a 50% share of the US market; the closest competitor is the Animas® Vibe™ System. The Vibe System, however, is gaining ground, as it combines best-in-class technology with a full-color screen and a more contemporary look.

Animas Vibe - green
Animas Vibe System

 Medtronic’s Goals

  • Stay relevant and be a technology leader.
  • Use new technology-based services.
  • Attract new customers.
  • Build customer loyalty.
  • Provide a pleasant and useful experience to customers.

The User

VanessaWe chose as our representative user “Vanessa,” age 16, newly diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes and feeling both overwhelmed with information and isolated from her peers:

  • Considers herself a “typical teenager”
  • Loves hanging out with friends
  • Likes Vine, Snapchat, Facebook and other phone apps
  • Plays soccer on her high school team
  • Diagnosed six months ago

Vanessa’s Goals

  • See and make sense of her diabetes data on a daily basis.
  • Get actionable advice and insights.
  • Find a community to stay motivated and learn about her diabetes.
  • Above all, to feel “normal.”


The M+ Solution

We aligned business and user goals by designing a mobile app for teens, M+, that would allow users to enter and analyze information, browse actionable tips, and connect with other people with diabetes.


User Research

Bullet points:

  • Most survey respondents said they sometimes skipped or forgot parts of their daily diabetes regimen.
  • Medtronic’s devices are used for people with Type 1 Diabetes; half of people with Type 1 Diabetes are under 18.
  • Key interview findings:
    • Most interviewees wanted actionable tips and information.
    • Most interviewees said that other people with diabetes were a great information and emotional resource.
    • Most interviewees expressed a desire to feel “normal.”

Skip to Process.


The long version

We started by sending out a survey to people with diabetes. Some of the results were surprising. We expected a high level of compliance with diabetes regimens; this would have led us to build a digital service that concentrated on connecting people to each other rather than on reminders. But 65 percent of respondents said they sometimes skipped or forgot parts of their daily regimen.

Almost everyone who use diabetes devices such as Medtronic’s has Type 1 Diabetes, a more deadly form of the disease than Type 2. And about 50% of people with Type 1 Diabetes are under 18, so we were able to narrow our focus further.

We continued by interviewing people with diabetes. All our interviewees were adults, but if they had been diagnosed as children or teens, they talked about having felt like they were the only one in the world with diabetes.

I was diagnosed at 17 but by 19 I was so sick of [doing daily diabetes care] all by myself, I stopped it completely. I only went back to it after I ended up in the hospital with kidney values twice normal.

Interviewees also said that the best sources of actionable information, especially in early diagnosis, were other people with diabetes, even more so than doctors.

Through this research we came up with some user stories:

  • When I count my carbs and work out, I want to use one “source of truth” for my related data, so I don’t have to use three separate apps to figure out what to do.
  • When I forget to check my blood glucose levels, I want to get reminders, so I can keep my blood glucose on an even keel.
  • When I feel like I’m the only person in the world with diabetes, I want to find a community, so I don’t feel so isolated.


Bullet points:

  • Vanessa can check blood glucose level and trends for carbohydrate intake, insulin dosage, exercise, and sleep.
  • She can get actionable insights and tips.
  • She can also contact other users for connection and possible mentorship.

Skip to Usability Testing.


The long version:

Looks like we’re at Dairy Queen!

Our early sketches included features such as:

  • Swiping through food categories with nutritional advice (Blaine)
  • Finding a workout buddy (Blaine)
  • Partnering with retailers to find fun clothing that would cover an insulin pump at the waist (Nicola)
  • Tracking the user’s mood with graphs, color, keywords, or numbers (Nicola)
  • Blogging or journaling (Nicola)
  • Geotracking the user to favorite eating places to allow syncing of menu items with nutritional information (Sasha)
  • Time-syncing to a school schedule (Sasha)
  • Creating a loyalty program which would provide gift card rewards for responsible behavior (Sasha)

We decided to go with a Minimum Viable Product (also known as “Cupcake Theory”): When releasing an offering, build out a small set of features and leave more complex items for later.

The three features we decided to concentrate on for Vanessa:

  1. Providing actionable advice
  2. Allowing her to track her diabetes-related data
  3. Connecting her to other users

We wanted a way for Vanessa to track data and also get insights and tips, so we started designing a multi-part screen. We wanted her to have several different data sets available—we started with blood glucose, carb intake, exercise, and mood—so we set up a toggle system in a graphical interface. After more interviews, we changed the sort to carb intake, insulin dosage, exercise and sleep.

Round 2 sketches
Round 2 sketches


Final trend screens (carbs)


The first screen Vanessa sees after the push notification and alert screen is the blood glucose level monitor.

Blood glucose level

The blood glucose level is the most important piece of information for her, so we made the graphics large and easy to read. She can add information via the blue “+” at the bottom.

The Quick Tips screen: actionable advice

Tips Library


The Community feature is accessible from any screen.

Community Library
Community Library
Community Detail
Community Detail


Vanessa thinks Miranda might be good to contact: she also likes soccer and is Hispanic, and is slightly older, so she might be a mentor through the diabetes learning curve. She can message Miranda via the Community Detail screen.


Usability testing

Bullet points:

  • One user’s comments indicate that she would use the app if it was available
  • Other users liked the look-and-feel of the blood glucose screen.

Skip to Next Steps.


The long version:

We tested a PDF of selected screens with interviewees, friends, and family. One diabetic tester’s feedback:

The Trends screen is easy to follow. I like that it’s not five or six different screens.

I like that it praises you [for a good blood glucose level]. Mostly everyone focuses on negatives. No one acknowledges when you’ve done something right.

The alert just says my blood glucose level is high. I’d want to know an exact number.

You should define hypoglycemia [as opposed to hyperglycemia]. There’s a lot of confusion about terms, especially for a newbie.

If this was real I’d definitely download it.

(We didn’t change the alert as other testers said they’d rather their level be kept discreet. A toggle for this could be in a later version.)

Several testers liked the plain arc of the blood glucose readout; a minority would have preferred a visual with distinct tickmarks.

A link to the InVision prototype is here. If you don’t have InVision please contact me at design[at]nicolaginzler[dot]com and I’ll email you a link.

Next steps

  • Add a chatroom to the one-to-one connection feature
  • Revamp the app interface to be more bright and teen-friendly, or change the representative user to a person in their early 20s
  • Connect the app to social media with cross-posting
  • Gamify the app with badges and rewards for responsible behavior

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