A project focused on delivering personalised care for people living with Type 2 diabetes has recently been carried out across South West London.

You & Type 2 was designed to make it easier for people with Type 2 diabetes to get the most from health and social care systems. By giving patients more information about their condition and a bigger say in the things they want help with, the aim was to make it simpler to manage their condition.

The project, led by South West London Health and Care Partnership, combines the clinical pathway with innovative digital technologies to provide each person with their own easily accessible personal plan of care, education and support.

You & Type 2 is funded by the NHS England Test Bed Programme and collaborates with Health Innovation Network, Healum, NHS Year of Care, Insight Health Improvement, Oviva and Citizen.

Health Innovation Network (HIN), the Academic Health Science Network (AHSN) for South London, were heavily involved in organising and facilitating the project.

Using their contacts, they put together a research and development consortium to bid for the NHS Diabetes Test Beds Wave 2 competition. The objective of the competition was to evaluate the effectiveness of innovative technologies in transforming health outcomes and quality of care for patients with Type 2 diabetes.

Digital Health News spoke to some of those involved in the programme.

Oliver Brady, programme director for diabetes and mental health at Health Innovation Network, said: “We identified that there were challenges in the diabetes care that was being delivered across South London in terms of variation, particularly with the outcomes people living with diabetes were achieving.

“We started to look at what we could do to make improvements and reduce that variation. We had a workshop and brought people living with diabetes and healthcare professionals working in South London together.

“What we learned was that care planning in primary care was something that we thought could be improved on because it wasn’t being done in a consistent way.”

Healum’s technology

Healum, a start-up founded in 2015 that provides connected software and apps to improve self-management for patients with long term conditions, were handed a huge role in the project.

They were given the important job of providing the care and support planning software to enable primary care healthcare professionals to create digital plans of care and support.

Healum’s technology in this project is one of many platforms introduced in recent years to support those living with diabetes. In November last year, the Royal United Hospitals Bath NHS Foundation Trust (RUH) launched the MyLifeApp to help children manage Type 1 diabetes.

Furthermore, earlier in 2021 Chelsea and Westminster Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust introduced the DBm-Health app, co-designed by the trust themselves, Sensyne Health and diabetes clinicians, to help people better manage diabetes at home.

The Healum app that was created especially for this project is a convenient and secure way for patients to access their results and care plan on the go. It can help them work towards their goals and direct them to helpful information.

Patients are also able to receive results via personalised video messages, helping them to understand their health clearly and efficiently, in turn ensuring they make better choices to manage their condition in a healthy way.

Jonathan Abraham, CEO at Healum, said: “We spent a few years building a platform that really enabled personalised care planning. We wanted to make it much easier for healthcare professionals to support and motivate people, not just when they’re in the clinic but out of it as well.

“This meant they could support people in understanding their health choices and how to best manage their health regardless of whether someone had an appointment.

“The You & Type 2 project was a really great opportunity we wanted to get involved in. For us it’s always been about how the system and software that healthcare professionals use supports their processes. We designed our technology to just assist them, not replace them.”

Benefits for patients and clinicians

A total of 34 practices have been involved in the project and an estimated 101 healthcare professionals have been trained to use the pathway. The project has so far been a great success, with clear benefits for both patients and clinicians.

Dr Neel Basudev, clinical lead for diabetes at HIN and partner at Springfield Medical Centre, said: “From a patient perspective, people with diabetes have found it very helpful to be able to learn a bit more about their disease, their results and what it means to them.

“Previously, I was using the 20-30 minutes patients had to talk to them about results, convey information and check things, but now these are already done before they’ve met me.

“So, the time they have with me now is very much invested in them and what’s important to them. That’s the whole rationale behind the project, so that the right healthcare professionals are seeing the patient at the right time in their journey.”

Health outcomes so far and future ambitions

Since the project launched, the benefits for patients on this pathway are evident in their positive health outcomes.

After three months, 73% of users that were using the app had reductions in Hemoglobin A1C (HbA1c), which is your average blood glucose levels for the last two to three months, as opposed to only 40% of users who were not using the app.

These promising outcomes bode well for the future, with the ambition of all stakeholders involved to develop and expand this project.

Brady said: “We want to continue the development and the spread of this across South London, particularly thinking about how in the future we can take the learnings that we’ve got from doing this in diabetes and look at multiple long-term conditions.

“We’d like to look at other parts of the country outside of South London where care and support planning is taking place that would benefit from this technology.”