Header image for the current page Evaluating the use and potential of digital diabetes education

Treating type-2 diabetes costs the NHS in the region of £11.7 billion a year with predictions that costs will reach £16.9 billion by 2035, when the number of people with diabetes will rise from 3.8 million to 6.8 million.

Guidance from the government health body NICE recommends that everyone diagnosed with diabetes should be offered free health education, yet just 22% of those offered education opportunities are then recorded as attending a structured education course. When individuals do participate in an educational course, there is evidence that diabetes self-managed education helps support individuals to stay healthy by maintaining or improving their general quality of life and reducing the risk of potential life-threatening medical complications.

There are a varied number of education options on offer, incorporating both traditional classroom-based approaches and an increasing range of digital diabetes self-managed education solutions providing a range of online educational packages which support patients with their condition.

To help improve access for patients, Arden & GEM’s transformation team was approached by Mapmyhealth to undertake a qualitative evaluation of the information and evidence needed when making commissioning decisions about diabetes self-management education offerings. This was part of a wider piece of work, part-funded by Innovate UK, to look at how SMEs can best evaluate their offerings in this area. During the six month project, 25 commissioners, including GPs and diabetes specialists, were interviewed – from a range of geographies – to better understand current commissioning arrangements, explore the challenges around digital solutions, look at the evidence base requirements, and the role of partnerships and collaboration.

Key themes and findings included:

  • the need for digital solutions to work in partnership with face to face approaches
  • the importance of demonstrating system and data management compliance
  • demonstrating the ease with which solutions can be integrated into existing practice and pathways
  • the ability to reach different cohorts and demographics
  • consideration of access and signposting for patients
  • providing accessibility across a range of platforms and devices
  • integration with new service models.

“These findings will be hugely important in supporting SMEs to better navigate the complexities of the commissioning landscape and more effectively frame their offer to meet the needs of the healthcare economy. In particular, they shift the focus from demonstrating an evidence base up front onto embedding solutions into clinical pathways with ongoing data collection and evaluation. We hope that this will drive uptake so that patients are equipped with the relevant knowledge and tools to manage their clinical condition effectively.”

Iain Brogan, Chief Executive Officer at Mapmyhealth