Being fortunate enough to have grown-up with a French chef for a mother, Provençale cuisine has always featured heavily in my life. One of the defining characteristics of an accomplished dish is the chef’s ability to take wholesome, quality ingredients and blend them together into something that is greater than the sum of its parts.
Every element of a ratatouille (for instance) has a distinct role in the overall flavour and texture – from the crunchiness of the courgette to the sweetness of the pepper and tartness of the tomato. Assembled by a chef with a good palate, each ingredient is identifiable and contributes something unique to the dish, yet the overall experience is considerably more than mere vegetables on a plate.
Alas, this is not actually a food blog but by now the metaphor should already be clear. The Diabetes Digital Coach is an ambitious project with lots of moving parts and a range of different partners, each contributing something specific, according to their particular expertise.
The overall plan is to combine these different offerings into a single product – a digital platform tailored to help people with diabetes self-manage their condition – however I think it’s important that those people understand what that is likely to look like.
When people think of a ‘platform of services’ there are usually two opposing models that come to mind: marketplaces vs social media.
To continue the earlier metaphor, at one end you have the grocery shop approach, where the customer can view the options and each vegetable can be selected, purchased and bagged individually. This is the iTunes model, where independent products can be chosen and downloaded in isolation – each app, song or video is a self-contained offering, giving lots of choice but little-to-no continuity of experience.
At the other end of the spectrum, you have a rich purée made by blending together lots of different ingredients into a single potage, over which the customer has little control. This is the Facebook model, where the features available within the platform (chat, video, polls, games, third party apps etc) are all integrated into the overall system, providing a cohesive and seamless user experience, but significantly limiting user choice.
Somewhere between these two culinary options lies the Diabetes Digital Coach ratatouille.
As a collection of ingredients, carefully-selected for their quality and complimentary nature, each element is identifiably a courgette, a pepper, an onion, an aubergine, all coated in a rich tomato sauce. Each pre-existing product that will be housed within the bespoke platform will still be recognisable for what it is – a self-management aid for physical activity, dietetics, wellness, insulin management, or structured education – but taken together they represent a much more harmonious dish.
One of the benefits of this approach is that, with the Diabetes Digital Coach’s service personalisation system, you can effectively tell the chef you’d prefer your ratatouille without peppers and you’ll still get the meal that is right for you!
So if you or someone you know has an appetite for better diabetes self-management, it's time to start thinking about booking a table... Doors open in autumn 2017 - we hope you will join us for us for a sampling of our finest digital ratatouille!