App to provide much-needed support for those with Type 1 diabetes

There is a clear and identifiable need for tools that reduce the burden of living with diabetes and support effective decision-making.

Across the globe, the number of people currently living with diabetes is growing; today nearly 400 million are estimated to have the condition. Each of these individuals make up to 180 healthcare decisions a day - decisions that can have a significant impact on their health and wellbeing. 

Philips approach to this began through an extensive consultation process with both people living with Type 1 diabetes and their healthcare providers, through their collaboration with the REshape Center at Radboud University Medical Center.

Based on these key user insights, Philips, Radboud and Salesforce set about developing a prototype diabetes support app designed to connect people living with Type 1 diabetes more closely with their healthcare providers.

The result is an innovative and new diabetes management solution, still at the prototype stage, that consists of a patient app and integrated online community that securely combine an individual’s personal health data, connected device data, and clinical health data from electronic medical records.

The proposition is an app that offers what we believe to be a previously unrealised level of benefit to people with diabetes, by:

− Ensuring people have access to the data they need to best manage their condition.
− Supporting them to truly understand their health information and share insights and expertise with other people with diabetes, their healthcare professionals, and their caregivers.
− Ensuring the user can easily share the data with their care teams, so that they receive the best collaborative care possible – tailored to their specific needs.

The first part of this proposition - providing people with an easy-to-access app through which they can schedule measurements and store and retrieve information such as blood glucose readings, carbohydrate intake, insulin use, mood, and activity levels, should certainly help to make holistic self-monitoring more practical.

In acknowledgement that such an offering is not unique in itself, a function has been included that allows the user to add additional, personalised metrics they may want to capture. This could include content like lab results, meaning users have immediate access to a significantly expanded breadth of information.

Of course, such information is only of real value if the user is able to clearly understand it, interpret it and act upon it. The app includes data-driven coaching that aims to help the user better understand the data and its relevance to them. For example, how certain behaviours - such as addressing carbohydrate intake - may be a relevant response to changes in blood glucose readings.

The app also offers a notification system so that important actions and decisions receive attention. If a patient misses a reading they receive a notification straight to their smartphone. Furthermore, the app's data collection functionality is supported by the ability to selectively view ones reading in a variety of graphs. 

This easy visualisation of multiple data-points from different measures allows users to identify relationships between factors and their behaviors, and derive actionable insights from the data they collect.

Another significant differentiator is the integrated online community’s ability to provide a secure communication channel between the user, their healthcare team, their caregivers and other people with diabetes. This allows them to share data and seek guidance, with the potential to quickly identify and address any issues or areas of concern with their managing their condition.

Healthcare professionals can also gain tangible benefits from the app. Like the patient tools, the benefits come from greater data collection functionality, better filtering and an ability for secure two-way communication.

The app represents the first real-world implementation of the Philips HealthSuite Digital Platform for a clinical situation. CareCatalyst is a digital solution that enhances collaborative care between people with diabetes and healthcare professionals by collecting and connecting data from across the healthcare ecosystem.  

Through the use of its open API’s, future self-measurement tools can be embedded into the app easily as these new technologies become available.

This integrated app and online community was designed hand-in-hand with people living with Type 1 diabetes and their healthcare providers. Through this early engagement, Philips sought to establish both the support tools potential users would find most useful, while considering how people would ultimately want to access and interact with the app.

Through this approach, the aim is to overcome the challenges of integrating a self-support tool into daily life, and to place it into a market where there is currently a significant amount of support for people living with Type 2 diabetes, but comparatively little for those living with Type 1.

Philips’ aim is to make significant strides towards empowering people with diabetes in self-management, while enabling meaningful collaborations in diabetes care. Philips believes this is a significant step in the direction of breaking down data siloes and connecting individuals’ personal data with healthcare organisations’ clinical data, which no other existing diabetes platform or app can, in this way.

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