Together with the Research & Development department of rehabilitation centre The Roessingh, researchers and medical specialists from UT and ZGT (Ziekenhuisgroep Twente) developed the Diameter app that helps diabetes patients make lifestyle improvements. After extensive testing, Ancora Health will now join the team to work on the further development of the app and make it available to a large group of diabetes patients in the long term. With the digital care pathway, UT, ZGT and Ancora Health expect to help diabetes patients improve their lifestyle and get a grip on their glucose levels. The result? Healthier patients and fewer hospital visits.
People with diabetes are often advised to make lifestyle changes. But how should they go about that? And how do they keep it up? These questions prompted researchers and doctors to develop the Diameter app. Professor and medical specialist Goos Laverman said: “We know that the burden of chronic illnesses in general and diabetes in particular can be lifted significantly through lifestyle changes. The Diameter app includes a monitoring component and a coaching component. Physical activity, nutrition and glucose levels are measured and translated into personal, digital and automated coaching. Users will receive notifications specifically tailored to their situation and that help them keep their glucose levels within target range. We have observed that this truly helps make the necessary lifestyle improvements. As an additional benefit, patients will not need to see a doctor if their situation does not require it and definitely not once every three to four months as is the standard.”
Laverman: “We have already extensively tested the first version of the app on people receiving treatment at ZGT. The results gave us insight into how user-friendly the app is and the effects of the app on eating and exercise habits and blood sugar levels. But we also looked at the messages we sent to the users. What does the user need? What works best? And what doesn’t work? The outcome of this research led to an application of which we are very proud indeed. But we still have a way to go. While it is great that the app is here and is appreciated, we now want to take it to the next level. Ancora Health steps in to further develop and professionalise the digital care pathway.”
“We have entered into a multi-year partnership with Ancora Health, allowing us to quickly integrate research results and patient experiences into the app. By using the app and conducting research simultaneously, we can quickly pinpoint which adjustments would have a positive impact. We can then make these adjustments directly available to our patients. This way we are able to reduce the often long period of time from research to practice.”
The digital care pathway will be used within ZGT from the beginning of 2024. Prior to this launch, a small group of patients will be asked to use the app. As soon as the app works perfectly and users are satisfied, it will be made available to a larger group of patients. The ultimate goal is for the digital care pathway to be used for diabetes patients outside of hospital settings too, for example by general practitioners.
Prof. Goos Laverman is a Professor in the Department of Biomedical Signals and Systems (BSS; Faculty of EEMCS / TechMed Centre). He also works as a medical specialist at ZGT. The Diameter app is part of the ‘Diabetes on Return Programme’ that aims to make changes to diabetes care to help patients gain more control over their illness.