Patients to trial new online support for type 2 diabetes

Author: Adrian O'Dowd
Patients to trial new online support for type 2 diabetes

Patients are to be offered access to a NHS online tool designed to help people with type 2 diabetes manage their condition.

The online portal HeLP-Diabetes is said to be the first ever to be shown to help people with type 2 diabetes reduce blood glucose levels and is the result of a partnership between NHS England and Changing Health, a Newcastle-based technology start-up company which is delivering the online platform for the tool.

The National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) funded tool gives patients with type 2 diabetes access to expert advice and support without the need for a face-to-face appointment.

Eleven NHS sites will pilot the new service later this year through funding from the NHS Long Term Plan, with HeLP-Diabetes being made nationally available early next year, and GPs encouraged to promote it.

Currently, there are more than 2.8 million people diagnosed with type 2 diabetes and a further 750,000 people are believed to be living with the condition undiagnosed. Around 10% of health expenditure in England – £10bn every year – is associated with diabetes, largely due to preventable complications of the disease such as amputations.

Following previous trials, the service demonstrated significant improvements in people’s average blood sugar and an improvement in the mental health of people newly diagnosed with the condition.

Under this year’s pilots, a range of online tools, resources and support services will now be made available, including:

  • educational courses supporting lifestyle changes to help people better manage their diabetes
  • reliable information relating to lifestyle choices including diet, exercise and managing alcohol consumption
  • support for emotional wellbeing, including to manage the distress people can experience when first diagnosed with the condition

Professor Jonathan Valabhji, national clinical director for diabetes and obesity at NHS England said: “Living with type 2 diabetes is a daily challenge for millions, as well as a growing issue for our NHS, which is why the Long Term Plan for the health service sets out ambitious, innovative and evidence-backed measures to prevent and manage the condition.

“Access to trusted information and support is key to helping people manage their diabetes and this online tool helps deliver this as part of our Long Term Plan to tackle major conditions and diseases.

“We are living in an increasingly digital age with people managing most aspects of their life online. The rollout of this programme will give people the opportunity to get support for their type 2 diabetes online too.”

Seema Kennedy, public health minister, said: “There are millions of people with type 2 diabetes who are at increased risk of heart disease, kidney failure, blindness and ultimately a shorter life. This is preventable, and the new online tool being rolled out on the NHS will offer simple advice on diet, exercise and emotional support that could make all the difference.

“Through our Long Term Plan for the NHS we want to do more to empower people with easy-to-use digital tools and information to take care of their own health.”