25% of Participants Meet Target in Joslin's Diabetic Weight Loss Program

Joslin Diabetes Center is the world’s largest diabetes research and clinical care organization. Joslin's diabetic weight loss program was in-person. It was very successful, but it didn't reach enough people. With diabetes projected to increase 165% among Americans between 2000 and 2050, the team knew they needed something scalable. They needed a digital approach.

  • 25% of digital weight loss program participants achieved the target 6% weight loss
  • 165% estimated increase in diabetes diagnosis among Americans by 2050
  • More than 9.4% of Americans are affected by diabetes

touching the lives of people with diabetes

Joslin asked Mad*Pow to design a user-centered, cost-effective digital diabetic weight loss program. The goal was to replicate the results of their highly successful in-person program. Mad*Pow knew this meant bringing together user research, behavior change, and design.

The Process: Keeping Joslin's Diabetic Weight Loss Program Personal

At the time, Joslin’s 12-week weight management program was entirely in person. There were doctor visits, counseling sessions, and peer-to-peer classes. The face-to-face approach led to success. That meant Joslin needed to maintain the same level of support and encouragement. But now, they needed to make it digital. To make the switch to digital, Mad*pow followed IDE, an iterative process that helped keep the focus on the end-user:

  • Insights gathering,
  • Design, and
  • Evaluation.

Insights Gathering

First, Mad*Pow's team took on the role of patient. Team members went through the full 12-week program. They gathered a wealth of subjective data during this time, in order to learn from patients and about the experience.


The design of the program meant more than visual design. Mad*Pow translated Joslin's program into something digital yet personal. The new Joslin diabetic weight loss program was user-centric, high-touch, and engaging. It consisted of 12, self-paced content modules. Each module included videos and interactive quizzes.

When a patient began the program, they received a scaffolded exercise and diet plan. The program also helped them track their blood glucose and daily weigh-ins. But tracking was only part of the plan. To foster engagement, members joined a support community. They were also given frequent feedback, tailored tips, summary emails, and strong calls to action. These elements worked together to make a digital version of what was successful in person.

Mad*Pow made the new Joslin diabetic weight loss program simple and efficient, for both patients and the Joslin team. The internal Joslin team was able to download and share reports, to ensure the patients’ medical teams followed their progress.


In IDE, evaluation doesn't need to wait until the end. In fact, Mad*Pow began evaluation at the same time as design! As soon as wireframes were designed, Mad*Pow began collecting user feedback. They kept testing (and iterating) as they created visual design, and up through development.

Once development and QA were complete, Joslin launched a 500-person pilot sample. The pilot sample moved to a new sort of evaluation. Where Mad*Pow had looked at usability and desirability, Joslin now tested for engagement.

The Results: Success with Joslin's Diabetic Weight Loss Program

This pilot study for the Joslin diabetic weight loss program was a clear success. The program helped 25% of participants reach their target goal of 6% weight loss. While this may sound low, it is significantly higher than most diabetic weight loss programs.

Joslin continues to move forward and make amazing strides in diabetes research and treatment!

Key Services

  • Research and Testing: The Mad*Pow research team did everything: interviews, usability testing, surveys, and analytics. They truly immersed themselves in the world of diabetic weight loss.
  • Behavior Change Design: The team took the lead in making Joslin's 12-week program an engaging experience. The team crafted an evidence-based system. The system became the app, and delivered weight loss results.
  • Experience Design: UI designers built wireframes and a clickable prototype. They designed a visually stunning app.
  • Mobile App & Web Development: Mad*Pow developers delivered an experience with videos, quizzes, and a virtual support community.