Haniel Croitoru is an Enterprise Architect at Protiviti, a global Microsoft Partner. He has been working with Power Platform since its inception as part of the MVP program. While he’s focused on helping his clients implement innovative low code solutions, Haniel recently created a solution that improves life for his own family.
This story begins about two years ago when Haniel’s youngest daughter, Eden, was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. “We had no idea what diabetes was all about because nobody in the family has diabetes. So we were not exposed to managing the disease, understanding the symptoms, knowing what to expect. We had to take a bit of a crash course and learn very quickly what it means to have a young child with diabetes,” says Haniel.
Managing type 1 diabetes comes down to keeping blood sugar at the right level. This process is normally taken care of by the body through the production of insulin. But for people with type 1 diabetes, the body no longer makes insulin, so they need to inject it manually. Figuring out how much insulin to take is determined by multiple factors, including how many carbohydrates are consumed (which are broken down into glucose). That requires careful monitoring of all food consumed.
All of this monitoring, measuring, and calculating can get complicated. There are tools like insulin pumps and patches that can help – but they are expensive (a pump can cost thousands of dollars) and only partially covered by insurance. “I came across some apps that can help manage the data – but none that were easy to use, especially for an 11-year old,” says Haniel. And that’s where Haniel’s experience with Power Platform comes in.
A simpler way to manage diabetes
In just a few days, Haniel had come up with a solution. He created a mobile app using Power Apps that simplifies many of the time-consuming tasks required to manage diabetes. The app is called “Munching Red Panda”, named after Eden’s favorite animal. (She came up with the ‘munching’ part.)
A simple interface makes it easy for Eden to enter blog sugar levels on her phone (date and time are tracked automatically). This includes a Power Automate flow that triggers an alert if Eden enters a dangerously low blood sugar level. The alert is sent to Haniel and his wife as an email or text message, along with a map that shows Eden’s location. Another function tells Eden which type of insulin to take (she has two types, depending on the time of day). The app also tracks when an insulin pen is about to expire and provides a reminder when a pen needs to be changed.
The app also helped simplify an even more tedious task – food monitoring and carb calculations. Initially, Haniel would have to manually enter several pieces of information into the app for each meal: the food Eden was about to eat, the amount, and the units. Eventually, he built up a catalog of this data which he displayed in the app. In this way, Eden only needed to select the food, enter an amount – and the app would calculate total carbs. Time saved.
Saving time with generative AI
The app turned out to be an ideal solution, especially when Eden was younger – and her diet was simpler. But as she grew older, went out more to restaurants, and tried new foods, the food catalog that Haniel created needed to be manually updated with each new food. So, Haniel added another innovative update – this time, using the generative AI features in Power Automate that automates the carb count for just about any food.
Haniel started by selecting a pre-built text generation model. He then configured the ‘Create text with GPT’ action by giving it a prompt with the food entered by Eden. The flow takes the data, structures it as a JSON object, and sends it to Edamam, a nutrition website which looks up each food and returns many nutritional parameters, including the total carb count. What’s even better is that the action will work off data entered by either voice or text. “AI Builder made it surprisingly easy to add exactly the AI model and functionality I needed. In just a few minutes, I was able to dramatically improve the way my app works,” says Haniel.
Now, all Eden has to do is press the microphone on her phone and say the food and quantity that she wants to eat. For example, she could say: I want one slice of watermelon, a banana and 300 grams of cheese – and the app automatically displays the total carbs.
Benefits like this had a huge impact on the family’s everyday lifestyle. As Haniel explains, “Recording and calculating data – something that could take up to 10 minutes per meal — could now be done in a few seconds. That’s a significant time savings – especially when you have to do this for every meal.”
Eden was particularly impressed with the AI capabilities of the app. “I have seen AI work in my robotics courses – but was surprised at how well it worked within the app.” She also appreciates the time that the app gives back to her. As she points out, “I would often start eating later than everyone else because we would have to calculate all the carbs manually.” With the app, she can eat right on time with her family and friends.
Sharing their success with others
Another happy ending to this story is that, now that Eden has access to a glucose monitor and insulin pump, she no longer needs many of the functions built into the app. But as Haniel says, “There are thousands of families who simply can’t afford this equipment – even with insurance, which often doesn’t cover the full cost.” This is why Haniel is working to make the app more widely available.
In addition, Haniel is talking to doctors at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, Canada (where insulin was invented 101 years ago) about how the app could be used to support their diabetes research. In addition to collecting food information, Haniel envisions using the app to collect other data such as demographics, activity levels, health conditions – all information that could help generate new insights and breakthroughs.
In the meantime, he’s just pleased that he could help make life easier for his daughter, Eden – all thanks to some inventive thinking and a simple app on Power Platform.
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MEDICAL DEVICE DISCLAIMER. Applications built using Microsoft Power Platform are not designed or intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, treatment, or judgment and should not be used to replace or as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, treatment, or judgment.