The site is Lifetoolz.com—not Lifetools.com. There's a message in the rather informal spelling.
The people who created this new site for people with diabetes set out to build something that was "a little bit funky," says CEO Phil Morle. They wanted it to look more like Yahoo! or Hotmail than a traditional medical Web site.
This is not just a site for Australians
"There are a lot of diabetes sites out there that are gray and blue," Phil told me a few days ago when I called him from my home office in California to his in Sydney, Australia. "Sort of sterile. We've tried to avoid that because the more that diabetes can be considered a lifestyle as opposed to a disability the better. So we wanted to make a site that people would feel good about having on their screens regularly."
In addition to Phil, the team behind Lifetoolz is his wife Kellie Morle, a professional journalist who is the site's managing editor, and Rainer Wollgarten, a software engineer who is the site's chief technology officer. All three have full-time jobs elsewhere. "It's been a case of getting up a 6 a.m. and working on Lifetoolz until 9 a.m. and then going off to other jobs," Phil says.
Phil was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes 18 years ago when he was 14. "We began this site for my use, just to record my own measurements in an environment that I found useful and convenient for me."
About one and one half years ago they decided to make the site available to others around the world, and at this writing they haven't even started to promote it. "We just flicked it live in April," Phil says.
This is not just a site for Australians. Its worldwide focus is evident from its separate Web addresses for the U.S., http://www. lifetoolz.com/, the U.K., http://www.lifetoolz.co.uk/, and Australia, http://www.lifetoolz.com.au/.
Why three separate sites? "While they are fairly similar right now, there are about to be some significant differences in the different content partners that we are starting to put together," Phil says. "They will be localized. We are also looking at having regional news in addition to the international news that we have right now. Also when you become a member in the U.S. it automatically defaults to the U.S. blood sugar measurement, milligrams per deciliter. In Australia we use millimoles per liter."
The site takes its name from the "ToolBox," where, after signing up for free membership, you can upload your blood glucose readings. Like most Web-based glucose-tracking programs, you have to upload your numbers manually. But Phil hopes to be able to provide automatic uploading from several different meters soon.
Besides the ToolBox, the other big part of the site is the Magazine. This consists of in-depth feature articles and shorter news items in a baker's dozen areas.
Phil thinks that one of the best things about the site is how it displays the latest news items at the top of the home page. Different visitors to the site will see different items there, depending on the interests they say they have when they subscribe.
There's already a lot at this site, but much more is coming, Phil says. "You will have a lot more choices in how you can view and chart your data. Another major feature will give your doctor access to your records. Increasingly we are going to integrate with the lives of people with diabetes the things that we need to do to stay as healthy as we can."
The American Diabetes Association originally published this article on its Web site as one of my “About the Internet” columns.
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