People who are at risk of Type 2 diabetes will receive digital support to prevent them developing the condition as part of the Long Term Plan, NHS England has announced.
Pilot schemes have found that offering 24/7 access to online advice significantly boosted the numbers taking up the Diabetes Prevention Programme (DPP).
Almost seven in 10 people, 68%, referred to digital schemes took part compared with around half of those offered face-to-face support.
Up to a fifth of places on NHS England’s flagship Diabetes Prevention Programme, around 40,000 a year, will be delivered digitally.
People who are at risk of developing Type 2 but who cannot make face-to-face support sessions will be the first to benefit from the expansion which starts this month.
They will receive wearable technology that monitors levels of exercise including applications which allow users to access health coaches and educational content; and online peer support groups.
NHS national clinical director for diabetes and obesity Jonathan Valabhji, said: “The Diabetes Prevention Programme has been a tremendous success for thousands of people already, and this new digital pilot further builds on that success.
“I’m delighted to see such a positive response among younger working age people, which shows how a digital approach can expand the reach of patients’ services as part of the NHS Long Term Plan.”
The NHS Long Term Plan has a renewed focus on the prevention of ill health as well as expanding and extending treatment. The Diabetes Prevention Programme, which has already helped thousands of people lose a combined 132,000 pounds, will be doubled so that 200,000 people every year can access it. The NHS will also trial very low calorie diets that can reverse Type 2.
Trials of the digital DPP, involving more than 5,000 people, found:
- Over two-thirds (68%) of those using digital support were aged under 65;
- The average age of digital participants was 58, lower than the age of those using face-to-face interventions (64 years);
- 16% of digital registrations were aged between 18-44 years compared with 7% of the same age group who registered for face-to-face support.
Dr Jennifer Smith diabetes programme director Public Health England, said: “The success of the pilot’s early findings shows we are breaking new ground to help those most at risk of type 2 diabetes to literally take their health into their own hands at their own time and pace. Many of us use on-the-go digital technology every day and this is a fabulous next step in diabetes prevention.”
Simon Pickup, UK managing director of Liva Healthcare, explained the benefits of digital technology being used by the NHS in this way, saying: “The growing health crises posed by chronic lifestyle illnesses such as Type 2 diabetes, most of which are preventable, are continuing to put an unsustainable strain on the NHS.
“Digital lifestyle interventions are one way to give responsibility back to patients to manage their own health; this is key to tackling the growing pressures on the healthcare system. Providing digital tools to enable patients to make – and maintain – these lifestyle interventions is a sustainable way to free up healthcare professionals’ time, whilst making sure that a patient is engaged at all times. Technology can help individuals at risk of chronic lifestyle diseases make long-term lifestyle change, it’s time we take full advantage of it.”