Closing the Loop with BlueLoop: Interview with Pam and John Henry
Earlier this month, in my Back to School Checklist post, I shared a few helpful YouTube videos from Pam and John Henry, founders of MyCareConnect and BlueLoop. Recently, I had the chance to chat with Pam and John about the products and services they provide and their personal story of how diabetes has touched their lives.
Laura Kolodjeski with The Henrys
For any parent, sending kids off to school can be heart-wrenching. But, for parents of children with diabetes, the first day of school brings additional fears and concerns. That’s the root of why Pam and John created MyCareConnect – a website, and BlueLoop, a newly launched iPhone® application, that provides children with diabetes a simple way to enter information about their diabetes, like blood sugar levels, while instantly notifying the child’s caregivers including parents, school nurses, teachers, physicians and more. Pam and John shared some new and exciting features of MyCareConnect with me, as well as how it plays a role in their family life. See what they had to say in our interview.
Q. What made you decide to start MyCareConnect?
Pam - Our daughter Sarah was diagnosed with diabetes in 2003, she was six years old at the time and diabetes was nowhere in our family. John had some experience with diabetes, but I had none. I couldn’t have even told you what a carbohydrate was! In first grade, in 2004, Sarah went on an insulin pump. With an insulin pump, care becomes a lot more intense and every day while she was at school, I found myself wondering how she was doing. At the end of first grade, I came up with a very rudimentary version of what is now MyCareConnect. I basically created it for myself to have a better way to connect with Sarah’s teacher and school nurse. Within a few months, the nurse was telling others about it and told me I should make it available for everyone to use.
John - The great thing about MyCareConnect now is that it’s limitless - it’s on the Internet. Anyone can use it. We have kids on it right now in the UK and Canada – it can be used globally. Wherever you get the Internet, you can get MyCareConnect.
Q. You recently launched your mobile application called BlueLoop. Can you tell me more about that?
John - Our system has grown up with our daughter. First, it was on the web, and then when my daughter was 10-years-old, she got her first cell phone and we added texting capability so she could text directly into MyCareConnect. Today, she has an iPhone® and we wanted to make it even easier for her to make entries and keep us all in the loop. Now, besides the ability to text into MyCareConnect with any phone with a data plan, our new app allows people to make their entries via an iPhone®, iPad™ or iPod Touch®.
Q. What are some other up-and-coming projects that you’re working on for MyCareConnect?
John - We’ve received calls from parents who want to connect with one another, so we plan to add unique features for parents to chat. We also want a quick way for people to connect with us to ask questions and receive answers quickly.
Because Pam and I are so accessible (we answer all the calls coming into our service lines), we get great ideas from our customers. Some recent ones we plan to integrate into MyCareConnect include the ability to upload a picture of the child in case there is a substitute teacher in school – or if the parents have to come up to school, they would like to see a schedule of what class their child is in. This way they don’t have to wait in the office for someone to look up where their child is and it is also nice for the nurse to know. These are little things that we plan to look into in the future.
Q. How has MyCareConnect impacted your family?
Pam - Because MyCareConnect sends updates to us during the day, we no longer greet Sarah when she gets home from school with, “How were your numbers today?” I am able to greet Sarah at the door with, “How was your science test today?” or “Did you have a good day at school?” Diabetes doesn’t have to be the topic of conversation for our family. In addition, as Sarah gets older, she is exerting her independence and MyCareConnect gives her the ability to do that. As long as Sarah enters her numbers, I get notifications and know she’s managing herself, so we don’t have to talk about it. As a mom, it is fulfilling for me because I am realizing all the extra benefits MyCareConnect has.
Q. Outside of MyCareConnect, what advice do you have for other parents raising a child with diabetes?
Pam - Your child is still a child. Diabetes shouldn’t define them and it shouldn’t always be about diabetes. Your child should be able to do things that all their friends are doing. Also, remember that diabetes is a life-changing diagnosis but it is manageable. It’s a matter of figuring out what works for your family and establishing a new normal.
John - There is support out there, and there’s more than just one support group. You have to find what you are comfortable with. There is something emotionally and psychologically comforting knowing that there are these groups out there. Seek that support, whether you use it or not. Find your community and just know that it is there.
That’s great advice guys! I’d like to congratulate Pam and John on such a great resource and tool for caregivers and children with diabetes. Also, a special thanks for sharing more information about MyCareConnect and BlueLoop with me and our Discuss Diabetes readers. Do you use MyCareConnect, BlueLoop or have any suggestions for Pam and John? Leave us a comment below.
All the best,
Disclosure: John and Pam Henry, founders of MyCareConnect LLC, received no compensation for this post. Sanofi-aventis U.S. supports MyCareConnect LLC, through a service agreement. All opinions contained in this post reflect those of the interviewee, and not of sanofi-aventis U.S., its employees, agencies or affiliates.
iPhone®, iPod®, iPod Touch®, and iTunes are trademarks of Apple Inc., registered in the U.S. and other countries. iPad™ is a trademark of Apple Inc. App Store is a service mark of Apple Inc.