North West London residents set to access diabetes prevention services through the touch of a button

5,000 people expected to benefit from the launch of new digital diabetes programmes

NHS England, Public Health England and Diabetes UK have teamed up with leading providers from the tech sector as the battle against Type 2 diabetes goes digital – with around 5,000 people expected to benefit from the launch of a new pilot project, including some from here in North West London.

North West London is one of eight pilot areas that has been selected to test drive a range of innovative digital products, apps, gadgets and other online tools, starting this month.

Healthier You: The NHS Diabetes Prevention Programme was officially launched last year to support people who are at high risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. Those referred on to the face-to-face programme get tailored, personalised help, this includes; education on lifestyle choices, advice on how to reduce weight through healthier eating and bespoke physical activity programmes, which together have been proven to reduce the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.

The new pilot offers similar support, assistance and guidance but through the use of digital interventions, including apps, which allow users to access health coaches, online peer support groups and to set and monitor goals electronically. Some patients will also receive wearable technology to help them monitor activity levels and receive motivational messages and prompts.

People accessing the new pilot service in North West London will receive an eight-week intensive lifestyle intervention with an experienced dietician providing personalised advice and support. Users get one-to-one coaching through a combination of a smartphone app and phone calls.

The programme is supported by videos and podcasts covering useful topics on how people can improve their nutritional health and lower their risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.

After the initial eight weeks, there is ongoing access to a dietician and monthly follow-up calls up to 12 months to ensure new healthy habits are maintained long-term. 

Dr Tony Willis, Clinical Director for diabetes, North West London Clinical Commissioning Group said: “It is really exciting to be able to offer new technology to patients. Clinicians are always looking for ways to make it easier for patients to manage their diabetes and these new apps are already showing excellent results.”

Professor Jonathan Valabhji, National Clinical Director for obesity and diabetes said: “Tackling obesity and the rising prevalence of Type 2 diabetes are the major public health challenges of our time. By April next year we will be providing the diabetes prevention programme to the whole of England - an evidence-based face-to-face programme that prevents or delays onset of Type 2 diabetes in those at high risk. Through this initiative, we have the potential to establish the effectiveness of digital interventions to do the same, so that the reach of the programme will be even greater."

Duncan Selbie, Chief Executive at Public Health England said: “This breaks new ground to help those at risk of Type 2 diabetes quite literally take their health into their own hands. Many of us use on-the-go digital technology every day and this is a logical next step in diabetes prevention.”