Infographics for the Open Insulin project

Hi everyone!

I’m Pieter, an information designer living and working in Ghent. I’ll design the infographics for the Open Insulin project. Before I can start we need to define the content and the target of the graphics.

I like the idea from Niek that most of the people in Flanders know diabetes as  “The Sugar” This could be a good start to attract people to the graphics with something they are already familiar with. This could be used in a big title that immediately draws the attention.

A few points I would like discuss:

  1. Target public?

I would make a difference between 2 targets: children (-18) and adults (18+), each with a different mood. Is there a difference between children diabetes and adult diabetes? Does it affect the development of the child?

  1. Key questions

I would design 2 infographics (as a start), one for the adults and one for the children. Each infographic should contain 5 key questions with a few lines of info to avoid an information overload.

  1. Format/design

I would use a landcape A4 format so it can be easily shared and read on social media. I will design a small document with the “corporate identity” so the the communication of the project will be internally and externally consistent and clear for everyone.

Any thoughts? What key questions about Diabetes should we address?



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Local relevance

I think the points we touched last Wednesday (link) offer a great starting point of what an infographic should look like for the audience in Belgium. Specifically around the need of education around prevention.

For the graphics to be maximally useful, they should be easy to employ in a different context, for the teams in Oakland and Sydney. What are your communication needs, @dfko , the most pressing obstacles that could be resolved if your message reaches the right people?

Some inspiration

I came across this article:

The visual about blame struck me… I wonder how it is in Belgium, maybe something comes out of the discussion here. Can be worth adding as well.


That post is heartbreaking, Winnie. And @Scigrades : welcome to Edgeryders! Looking forward to see your infographics.

Information for the general diabetis infographic


So I gathered some info for the infographic with general diabetes info. Feel free to comment, I would like to start designing this Wednesday, Thursday.

Title: So what do you know about “The Sugar” ?

Intro: The number of people wih diabetes has doubled in the last decennia. Everybody knows someone that is suffering from diabetis but do you know what is really happening inside the body of someone with diabetes? Do you know what to do when someone gets a hypo? In this infographic you will find some basic info about diabetes and how you can prevent it.

1) What is diabetes?

Diabetes is a chronic condition that increases blood sugar levels. This can have two causes: either the insulin is insufficient or the insulin produced is insufficiently effective. In both cases, the cells can not absorb enough sugar (glucose), which accumulates in the blood. There are two types of diabetis:

Type 1: Occurs usually in children or adolescents and affects less than 10% of all people with diabetes. Body does not produce enough insulin.

Type 2: Over 90% of people with diabetes have diabetes type 2. This occurs especially from the age of 40 years. Body produces insulin but can’t use it well.

2) How many people have diabetes? 

The number of people with diabetes has risen from 108 million in 1980 to 422 million in 2014. In 2012, an estimated 1.5 million deaths were directly caused by diabetes and another 2.2 million deaths were attributable to high blood glucose. WHO projects that diabetes will be the 7th leading cause of death in 2030.

3) What are the complications? How can you prevent them?

Diabetes can lead to complications in many parts of the body and increase the risk of dying prematurely.

Intestines & stomach problems, heart attack, kiney failure, blindness, hearing loss, stroke, damage of nerves and blood vessels, amputation of feet or leg, fatigue,…

Eat and drink healthy, quit smoking, keep your weight under control, exercise, keep the sugar levels in your blood under control, check your feet, get a check-up on a regular basis, keep learning about diabetes!

4) What is gestational diabetes?

A special form of diabetes is gestational diabetes. This occurs especially in the second half of pregnancy. This calls for further follow-up to minimize risks during pregnancy and at birth. Usually the diabetes disappears after childbirth. The diagnosis of gestational diabetes is an alarm signal. It means that you have a high risk of developing persistent diabetes in the first 5 to 10 years. Pregnancy diabetes occurs in 5 to 20% of pregnancies, usually in the second half of pregnancy.

5) What do you need to do when someone has an attack?

If your blood sugar levels fall below 4 mmol / l, you have a hypo. That’s what you notice:

•    to sweat

• vibrate

•    being dizzy

• suddenly changing mood (suddenly angry, for example) is unconcentrated

•    headache

•    being tired

•    be hungry

A hypo is about eating or drinking something quickly (not light). For example, six to eight tablets of grape sugar.

If your blood sugar exceeds 10 mmol / l, you have hyper. That’s what you notice:

<span style='font-family:“Times New Roman”,“serif”;mso-fareast-font-family:“Times New Roman”;

mso-ansi-language:NL-BE;mso-fareast-language:NL-BE’>• Pee a lot

• Have a lot of thirst and keep it

• are tired

• sudden moodiness, getting angry quickly

• be sick or give up

• Everything feels annoying

<span style='font-family:“Times New Roman”,“serif”;mso-fareast-font-family:“Times New Roman”;

mso-ansi-language:NL-BE;mso-fareast-language:NL-BE’>The body itself wants to lose too much sugar in the blood, through lots of pee. Many people continue to drink (but nothing sweet!) Helps. Also movement is good, then the blood sugar burns. If you are using insulin, you usually need to inject additional insulin.



<span style='font-family:“Times New Roman”,“serif”;mso-fareast-font-family:“Times New Roman”;


Information for the general diabetis infographic

Hi @Scigrades,

A remark on Type 1 diabetes: The body produces not enough insulin at the onset of diabetes type, this can slightly approved after the start of the insulin treatment (the so-called honeymoon phase), but after a while the insulin production stops alltogether.

What do we want to achieve?

I think the comment of @Nadia in the earlier thread on education is relevant here:

“Is it here? Is it now? Does it affect me? Is there anything I can do about it? More generally what is the behavioral change that you want to achieve with each outreach effort?”

I think this is the starting point: what do we want to achieve with the infographic? The graphics I saw from idf were kind of static. Mainly some facts and figures on diabetes. I think we want something that activates. There are already some concrete things that it could be used for, like education and prevention.

What would be useful for education, @NiekD ?

What is the message you’d like to get across for the project in the US @dfko ?

@Nabeel_p and @CarolineM , from your experience in the field with patients and with visual science communication: what are the criteria in your opinion for such a visual to be useful as a tool for eg. a community worker?

Infographic draft

Infographic draft

I need some more input from the different partners about the content of the infographic before I can progress with the graphic. Feel Free to comment. Any thoughts?



Data driven

Hello @scigrades . Great first stab, congratulations!

I would start from the info you you want to convey, and convey by data visualisation rather than text whenever possible. Maybe the number of deaths is also better represented by a number or a time series rather than a block of text.

Next, I would spend some time visualising the data. Histograms? Dashboard-style numbers? Time series?  If your story is “rising social costs”, time series make most sense. You could even combine basic information: put in the same graph the rising number of diabetics D, the rising price of insulin P, and the total cost of providing insulin D x B x Q, where Q (constant ) is the number of insulin doses a patient consumes in a year. The product of two rising values rises very fast!

If this is your story, a missing information is how much open sourced processes could bring down the price.

Again, you could experiment with dataviz to convey the message. For example, you could project your cost of insulin into the future , with and without open sourced processes.

Only then you would write a text that contains the info that you cannot convey by dataviz. My hunch is that now you have too much text for an infographics, but I am no expert. Hope this helps.


@Scigrades do you have an online doc where we can help with the text or make suggestions?

Other than copy I’m not sure I can provide feedback, I’m a really bad designer :slight_smile:

Great work by the way… !!

Infographic draft

Hi @Scigrades,

The International Diabetes Federation has lots of info that can be used for the infographic:

Check out these links:

Global data on the rising cost of insulin?

Thanks for the comment Alberto, very helpful. Indeed too much text now, I was going to cut the text but we first need to divide the infographic in different frames.

I’m still a bit confused about the rising cost of insulin, is this mainly happening in the USA? What kind of data should I use, there is no global data on the rising cost of insulin. I can analyse and visualise big data sets, but we need reliable datasets if we want to make a clear statement.

“a missing information is how much open sourced processes could bring down the price” => great idea! How should we define this?

@Noemi : Not yet, are you in the open insulin drive?


Rising costs: that’s in your own draft , I am just proposing an aggregation mode. :slight_smile: EDIT: sorry, I was wrong. You mention insulin prices, not costs.

Bringing down the price: somebody here suggested 40% as a reasonable target for biosimilars. EDIT: that person was @GLS9000 and the comment is this:

Global data on the rising cost of insulin?


I do not have the exact prices for insulin worldwide, but this document gives an idea of the access to medicines and supplies for people with diabetes:

Global survey on Access to Medicines and Supplies for People with Diabetes:

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Nope, I’m not on the gdrive

Hi @Scigrades I’m not (yet)… but you can give permissions only to one document- of course, if copy is not the problem and you’re discussing structure still, this can wait. I saw words like “may serve”, “continued research”, “improved versions” which dont make for the most convincing case, they sound a bit academic.

Getting there!

Which perceptions to break?

There is plenty of data out there it seems, it comes down to choosing the data that will have our desired effect. Open Insulin takes a more activistic approach: first and foremost we do things and would like people to join us in doing things (on two aspects: production of insulin and prevention). I think informing and opening a debate, although important, are means to an end or (desirable) side effects for us.

For me, things stick when some perception I held is broken (while avoiding the sensational). Eg., for most Belgian citizens it is a surprise that diabetes is a massive financial burden for US patients, while this is widely known for a US inhabitant. Just an example, better yet would be if it is also relevant for the same Belgian citizen. Say, data on the cost savings for tax payers. It is important to define the audience like Alberto mentions below.

In my opinion, we focus on the local project first and produce something that can be (partially) salvaged for other contexts and uses.

Insulin prices

Hi @Scigrades, @Alberto

The price setting method for medicin/drugs differs completely between Europe and the US. In Europe (EU) the price setting method for prescription drugs is strictly regulated (and it’s within this framework that the EU-members can negotiate the prices), while in the US they follow the free market principle which leaves room for misuse and pricing agreements (which happens in the US for insulin) between the pharmaceutical companies.

In the US, the prices for insulin have reaching new heights the last decade, see figure

It’s gotten only worse in the US with the repeal of Obama Care.

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Cost a better indicator

Insulin consumer  prices carry little information. They are too dependent on the particular form of subsidisation that exists in each country. Estimates on costs are likely more useful.

Also, is the infographics going to refer to Belgium?  The EU? The world?