Salford Clinical Commissioning Group will pilot a diabetes prevention solution designed by Hitachi Consulting in conjunction with Salford Royal Foundation NHS Trust, as part of an NHS programme to tackle the disease.

Hitachi’s solution will be trialled in the Salford and Lancashire and South Cumbria Local Healthcare Economies (LHEs).

The company’s Smart Digital Diabetes Prevention solution is designed to encourage people to make “sustained lifestyle changes” by setting lifestyle goals that can prevent them from developing type 2 diabetes.

It comprises a mobile self-assessment app that allows participants to monitor and record their diet and activity, as well as track fundamental fitness measurements such as weight and body mass index (BMI).

Users set their lifestyle goals with an NHS Health Advisor, who provides regular advice and coaching throughout the programme, based on a model established by the NDH (non-diabetic hyperglycaemia) care call team at Salford Royal Foundation NHS Trust.

The NHS’s pilot programme will involve some 1000 patients and will run until July 2019, with an interim report due in autumn this year.

Type 2 diabetes is considered one of the great epidemics of the modern world, with low- and middle-income groups particularly susceptible.

NHS England’s Diabetes Prevention Programme aims to explore whether digital technology can help people at risk prevent the onset of the disease through behavioural change.

Called Healthier You, the programme was launched in 2016 to support the most at-risk groups.

The scheme sees a number of developers trialling various solutions, with a view of being picked up by the NHS for widespread deployment.

Studies have suggested that lifestyle intervention schemes are an effective means of preventing and even reversing type 2 diabetes. Research from Public Health England suggests that a reduction of as little as 5% in a person’s weight can significantly reduce the risk of a person developing the disease.

In February, Digital Health News spoke to the creators of Liva Healthcare, a digital platform designed to tackle type 2 diabetes through connecting users with lifestyle coaches.

Hitachi has been working in partnership with Salford Royal NHS Foundation Trust and Salford CCG on its own prevention programme since 2012.

Paul Watson, vice president of healthcare EMEA at Hitachi Consulting, explained that the solution facilitated communication between participants and professional health advisors, who support each participant to help them achieve their goals.

Speaking to Digital Health News, Watson noted that digitally-enabled approaches weren’t “the right answer for everyone”.

He said: “Whilst technology can be an enabler, it also needs to be applied carefully to ensure it doesn’t become a barrier to care for people who either have limited access or low IT literacy – access to a smartphone, tablet or connected devices should not be a prerequisite.

“Participants are able to access our solution via a browser from any device, making it accessible from personal devices or the local library.”

Hitachi plans to continue developing its solution to integrate wearables, scales and machine learning capabilities to the app to support coaching and “flexible pathways” tailored to individual users’ needs.

“We’ve come a long way towards our vision of Prevention 3.0 and hope to improve health outcomes through the interconnection of technology, clinical expertise and social innovation,” said Watson.