I’m not alone in being fascinated by artificial intelligence and how it can be used in day-to-day life, including day-to-day life with diabetes. Every day there is more and more published about how it can be applied in healthcare and there’s a lot to be excited about.
Of course, it has its limitations. When I asked ChatGPT to manage my diabetes for the day, the response I got was disappointing:
I’m sorry, but as an AI language model, I’m not capable of managing your type 1 diabetes or any other medical conditions. Please note that managing diabetes requires careful monitoring of blood sugar levels, regular medication administration, and attention to dietary and physical activity habits, among other things.
Alpilean has been receiving a lot of hype lately for being one of the most popular and safe weight loss supplements this year. It is formulated with a proprietary blend of six potent Alpine ingredients that work to reduce weight distinctively.
The manufacturers of Alpilean supplement formulated this revolutionary product with the help of recent research that discovered a common factor in most obese men and women – low inner body temperature. Alpilean weight loss formula follows this research to increase and regulate the inner body temperature which ensures a fast and effortless calorie burn.
Not really useful – and just a little patronising! – but I guess managing a chronic health condition that requires minute-by-minute consideration, frequent complicated mathematical calculations and constant monitoring is complex. If only there was some sort of technology that could automate aspects of diabetes and reduce its daily burden. Oh… wait!
But I wondered what ChatGPT might put together if I asked it about the importance of community and lived experience engagement in diabetes advocacy and here is what it said. (I’ve copied and pasted the exact response from my prompt, with my edits in italics.)
Prompt: Is it important to centre lived experience in diabetes advocacy efforts? Thank you!
Diabetes is a chronic illness (condition) that affects millions of people worldwide, and its impact on daily life is often underestimated. While medical professionals (and researchers) have made great strides in understanding and treating diabetes, the experiences of people with diabetes are often overlooked in discussions of the disease. (True, AI friend. True.) This is why centering lived experience in diabetes advocacy is so important. (This! A thousand times this!)
Lived experience refers to the unique perspective of an individual who has experienced a particular issue, such as diabetes. When it comes to diabetes advocacy, lived experience is critical for a number of reasons. Firstly, people with diabetes are the experts on their own experience. (Damn straight we’re experts! Louder for people in the back!) They understand the daily challenges and obstacles that come with managing this chronic illness (condition). By centering their experiences, we can gain valuable insights into what needs to change in the healthcare system and broader society to better support people with diabetes. (Twenty-one years of advocacy summarised in that last sentence!)
For example, someone with diabetes might be able to provide important feedback on the design of medical devices, such as insulin pumps or continuous glucose monitors. (Oh, hells yes!) They might be able to identify usability issues that would be missed by a team of engineers who do not have diabetes themselves. By incorporating the experiences of people with diabetes into the design process, medical devices can be made more user-friendly and better meet the needs of those who use them. (We can point to the brilliant folks who have developed open source AID systems to demonstrate this point! )
Secondly, centering lived experience in diabetes advocacy helps to promote empathy and understanding. When we hear firsthand accounts of what it’s like to live with diabetes, we are better able to put ourselves in someone else’s shoes and understand the challenges they face. This, in turn, can lead to more compassionate and effective care. By understanding the daily realities of life with diabetes, healthcare professionals can provide more personalized and patient-centered care. (Yes we can!)
Similarly, when policymakers hear from people with diabetes about the impact of policies on their lives, they are better able to make decisions that take into account the needs and experiences of those who will be affected. (I believe there might be a hashtag for this. Something like #NothingAboutUsWithoutUs) For example, if a policy change would make it more difficult for people with diabetes to access affordable insulin, those with lived experience could explain the real-world consequences of that change and advocate for alternative solutions. (Hello to the incredible community advocates who instantly busied themselves, organised, lobbied, donated their time and put in the hard yards to kick start advocacy efforts that resulted in a 6 month reprieve for Fiasp remaining on the PBS here in Australia!!)
Finally, centering lived experience in diabetes advocacy can help to reduce stigma and raise awareness. (Absolutely! Look at the amazing advocates who have been writing and speaking about stigma FOR YEARS, which resulted in it being put on the policy and research agenda!) Diabetes is often seen as a disease (condition) that can be managed with diet and exercise alone, which is not always the case (never ONLY diet and exercise – there’s a lot more to it!). By sharing their experiences, people with diabetes can help to dispel myths and misconceptions about the disease. They can also raise awareness about the emotional toll of living with a chronic illness (condition), including the fear and anxiety that can come with managing blood sugar levels. (YES! Effectively explaining the emotional toll or living with diabetes needs to come directly from those with lived experience. Cosplaying diabetes is a very poor substitute to hearing from those actually doing diabetes.)
In conclusion, centering lived experience in diabetes advocacy is essential for improving the lives of people with diabetes. (100%) By incorporating the perspectives of those who have firsthand experience with the disease (condition), we can gain valuable insights into what needs to change in the healthcare system and broader society to better support people with diabetes. We can also promote empathy, understanding, and awareness, ultimately leading to better care and improved outcomes for people with diabetes. So, let us listen (yes – do!) to those with lived experience and work together (and be led by PWD) to create a more inclusive and supportive world for people with diabetes.
ChatGPT managed to pull together the case for centring lived experience in diabetes advocacy in 30 seconds. This is thanks to decades of work from advocates from around the world who continue to live, sleep, eat and breathe the #NothingAboutUsWithoutUs mantra. And this is really promising to me, because it seems that if AI has learnt this is true, then there’s hope for everyone else out there to reach that point too!