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NHS handing out gadgets to try to stall diabetes

WebMD UK Health News
Medically Reviewed by Dr Rob Hicks

14th November 2017 – More than 5,000 people are to be invited to test a range of gadgets and apps to demonstrate how active they are as part of a drive against rising rates of obesity and diabetes.

The digital approach to better health follows a craze for Fitbits and other activity tracking devices.

Users will be able to access health coaches and support groups and monitor their achievements electronically.

An online approach

"So much else in our lives is now about online social connection and support, and that now needs to be true too for the modern NHS," says Simon Stevens, CEO of NHS England. "This new programme is the latest example of how the NHS is now getting practical and getting serious about new ways of supporting people [to] stay healthy."

Patients in 8 areas of England will be recruited over the next 6 months and asked to trial different systems for a year. These include:

  • Hitachi Smart Digital Diabetes Prevention: A smartphone and computer-based portal designed to help people at risk of developing type 2 diabetes prevent the onset through monitoring and coaching
  • Buddi Nujjer: A wristband paired to a smartphone that monitors sleep patterns and eating frequency combined with professional advice on diet and lifestyle
  • Liva Healthcare: A Nordic-style approach that combines face-to-face meetings with coaches and a smartphone app for tracking targets and goals
  • Oviva – An 8-week intensive lifestyle intervention with an experienced dietitian providing personalised advice and support through a combination of a smartphone app, phone calls, videos, and podcasts
  • OurPath – A 6-week mobile and desktop digital programme with help for healthy eating, sleep, exercise, and stress management. Patients also get smart scales, a wearable activity tracker, access to a social support network, and a health mentor.

Self-help approach

Online methods of support have the potential to bring down blood sugar levels and in turn prevent or delay the onset of type 2 diabetes, according to NHS England, which is launching the pilot in partnership with Public Health England and Diabetes UK.

Duncan Selbie, chief executive at Public Health England, says: "This breaks new ground to help those at risk of type 2 diabetes quite literally take their health into their own hands.

"Many of us use on-the-go digital technology every day and this is a logical next step in diabetes prevention."

The scheme is designed to complement The NHS Diabetes Prevention Programme which was launched last year to support people at risk of diabetes through face-to-face programmes and tailored, personalised help.

There are 3.5 million people in the UK with diabetes – more than double the 1.4 million in 1996. It is estimated that a further 1.1 million have diabetes but have yet to be diagnosed with the condition.

Reviewed on November 14, 2017

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