By Tamlin Magee
Nov. 14, 2016
About a year ago, NHS England began exploring ways in which the internet of things and other remote analysis tools could help diabetes patients manage their illnesses - and created a consortium of 10 companies to drive the project forward.
According to director of enterprise at the West of England Academic Health Science Network (WoE AHSN), Lars Sundstrom, the programme - called NHS Test Bed - is in the second quarter of a 27-month project. If it is successful, there are ramifications for the way patients manage their own care in the UK and further afield too.
"The acceptance from the medical community that self management is something people do themselves is a particular aspect that a professional will find helpful in receiving the right information," Sundstrom says.
"In other words, when things are not progressing the way they should, there needs to be a system that sends the alert to professionals that says 'I need to take a look at this'. But if everything is proceeding quite smoothly, then they would rather the patient manages themselves."
There are two 'Test Bed' programmes running at the moment. One concerns dementia, and that is located in Surrey.
The West of England's Test Bed programme centres around self-management for diabetes care - it's possible, for example, to connect a glucometer up to the analytics platform created by HPE. The group created a portal of sorts so that the data can be managed and made accessible to both the patient and healthcare professionals. In other words, there are two sides to it - one for the patient and one for the practitioner.
"What we have tried to do is design it with the user in mind right from day one," says Sundstrom. "A lot of work we did around the Diabetes Digital Coach has been done with people with diabetes, and diabetes support groups, and trying to understand from them how they would like to manage their own condition - what information they would like to have, and how they would like to interact with it. That's been critical from day one.
"The great thing about the internet of things is it's moving us to a place where the technology is what you might call unobtrusive," he says. "With IoT, the ability to collect data all the time during your daily life is really critical. To be able to take that data and re-present it to people, so they can use that data to manage their lives in the way they would like to, is really a fundamental part of it."
Open and easy
The AHSN chose HPE to lead the data crunching side because, according to Sundstrom, they were simply the most open from the start.