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Do you want to beat Type 2 diabetes? There’s an app for that!

Patients living with Type 2 diabetes in North West London have seen significant improvements to their health thanks to new smartphone health apps.

In partnership with Imperial College Health Partners, the North West London Collaboration of Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) offered more than 400 patients from 18 GP practices across North West London the opportunity to trial the digital apps over four months last year.

The results

  • Patients saw a significant reduction in body mass index (BMI), blood pressure and blood sugar (HbA1c) levels
  • patients lost on average two to three kilograms of weight
  • 118 patients participating provided details of their medication, of those 20 per cent were able to stop taking the diabetes medication metformin during the trial.

The apps, welcomed by leading UK charity Diabetes UK, aim to support patients that are unable to or choose not to attend diabetes education classes to help control their diabetes. They encourage healthy eating and exercise and, educate people on how to manage and control their condition.

Dr Tony Willis, diabetes Clinical Lead for the North West London Collaboration of CCGs said: “The results have been beyond our expectations. Historically, the education classes on offer for patients with Type 2 diabetes have seen low attendance. There was an excellent uptake of patients completing the trial using the apps. This alongside the clinically significant improvements in HbA1c, blood pressure and weight; show just how well people respond when they can receive support at the click of a button.” 

Rachael Glover, Improving Care Manager at Diabetes UK, said: “Diabetes is the most devastating and fastest growing health crisis of our time, affecting more people than any other serious health condition in the UK, more than dementia and cancer combined. Everyone learns differently and it’s important that people with diabetes can access a range of tools to help them manage their condition.  Diabetes UK welcomes this new work, which shows how technology is being used to widen the options available for people with diabetes.”

What did patients say?

Patrick Hingston, from Hammersmith and Fulham, living with Type 2 diabetes said:
“I was diagnosed with diabetes in 2001, it has been a gruelling journey but now I am smiling. When my GP spoke to me about these new apps, I was desperate to try anything. I logged on, got some equipment sent to me, changed my diet and my physical activity. I started going on lots of walks which I have grown to love. I recommend this to anyone who is living with diabetes, having difficulty losing weight and getting their HbA1c down because mine has reduced dramatically. I am delighted to have made a turnaround and want to keep it that way. I want to thank my Dr for putting me on this trial; my results have given me so much joy.”

Patients that took part were from a mix of ages, ethnicities and social backgrounds who are often ‘hard to reach’ through traditional methods of care.

The three apps trialled were Changing Health, OurPath, and Oviva. Patients reported that the apps were easy to use, they felt more motivated, better informed about food and enjoyed the tips and advice on hand.

What’s next?

The North West London CCGs are currently working on an ‘information hub’ for both patients and clinicians to find information and training courses on diabetes. The apps will be one of the services on offer to ensure that every patient living with Type 2 diabetes in NW London will get access to personalised support and information to improve their diabetes and their overall health and wellbeing.

If you have Type 2 diabetes and need support talk your GP about the services available in your area. Stay updated with our work and watch videos on how other people, like Patrick are benefiting from these apps by visiting www.knowdiabetes.org.uk.

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Notes to editors

1. The North West (NW) London health and care partnership is working together to cut the risk of NW London residents developing long-term illnesses through consistent, proactive and coordinated care. This work is one of the programmes helping to deliver better care for people with long-term conditions and, is one of the five priorities agreed and included in the NW London Sustainability and Transformation Plan published in October 2016. Find out more: www.healthiernorthwestlondon.nhs.uk/

2. Imperial College Health Partners (ICHP) innovates and collaborates for a healthier population. We turn the potential of innovation into reality to help solve pressing challenges by collaborating across the health sector. By connecting a unique network of health experts we can accelerate the adoption and spread of innovation amongst our member organisations. Imperial College Health Partners is a partnership organisation bringing together NHS providers of healthcare services, clinical commissioning groups and leading universities across North West London. We are also the designated Academic Health Science Network (AHSN) for North West London and a member of The AHSN Network.

3. For media enquiries please contact Ayesha Baker, Communications Manager at ayesha.baker@nhs.net or 0773 348 4891.