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  • Nearly 4m people in the UK live with diabetes; rising to 5m by 2025.
  • Many experts predict that, without significant change to how diabetes is treated, the condition could bankrupt the NHS within a generation.
  • Diabetes costs the NHS more than £10bn a year, around 10% of its annual budget.
  • Much of this is spent treating distressing complications such as kidney failure, strokes and amputations.

MapMyHealth is a healthcare company that uses technology to empower patient self-management of chronic conditions, because medication alone is simply not enough. The founders of MapMyHealth believed passionately that diabetes patient outcomes – and the finite budgets of the NHS – could be maximised through personal interaction with a new software-driven structured education process, fully integrated with existing healthcare pathways.

Selecting Helastel to develop its bespoke software capability, the company successfully brought MapMyDiabetes.com to market, improving the lives of many thousands of patients, and successfully collaborating with healthcare professionals to redefine the delivery of diabetes care.

The Situation

From the outset, the founders of MapMyHealth had a strong vision for their new company, and an intimate understanding of the issues surrounding type 2 diabetes gathered from many years experience in the pharmaceutical industry. Their insights included:

  • Medicating for the symptoms of diabetes was proven to be no substitute for educating patients about lifestyle choices and how to “take control”
  • Self-management needed to be a continual process, with comprehensive and regular touch-points specific to diabetes only
  • Patients would benefit greatly from using information specific to their own condition and their own medical status, rather than education materials dealing in hypothetical situations
  • Any structured education programme would need to be embraced by (ultimately ‘prescribed’ by) the GPs and other healthcare professionals responsible for the patient
  • The highest possible security controls must be in place to protect the privacy of all patient-identifiable information
  • NHS commissioning bodies, charity groups etc. must be brought on side to champion the benefits of new structured education approaches to diabetes

Lastly, but most critical of all, was the need to ensure that patients themselves were positive about self-managing their condition; applying any new approach as an intuitive part of their daily lives.

The Opportunity

“Medical professionals are understandably eager to achieve patient-centred care, but this is absolutely what we’re talking about with the development of MapMyDiabetes,” said Iain Brogan, Chief Operating Officer at MapMyHealth. “It had to be designed in collaboration with patients and healthcare experts using a data-driven approach to align with genuine problems faced in delivering and receiving high quality, effective care.”

Helastel’s involvement began in 2013 with an initial remit to scope the design of the patient self-management software platform. This entire process encompassed the following steps:

  • Extensive primary research with patients, professionals and healthcare provider needs through interviews and extensive data gathering, identifying the typical user groups (or ‘personas’) that would adopt the software
  • Addressed the key requirements and completed the most essential capabilities within a full software release. Features included:
    • Structured education programme for newly diagnosed patients and those with long-standing diabetes
    • Sharing of patient data between healthcare provider and patient to support collaborative care, target and goal setting
    • A suite of tools to help patients put theory into practice, from diabetes recipes to cooking techniques and exercise plans.
    • Shared scheduling and documentation capabilities from simple appointment reminders and behaviour prompts to the agreed diabetes care-plan, providing the reference document for all face-to-face interactions with the healthcare professionals.
    • The ability for the healthcare professionals who manage diabetes to prescribe MapMyDiabetes to the patient in routine appointments, or remotely.
  • Using a combination of encryption, application security features and secure system architecture, achieved the highest standards of data security and anonymity without sacrificing system performance or scalability to comply with necessary compliance legislation such as the Data Protection Act.
  • Delivered secure integration with NHS information systems
  • Conducted multiple rounds of rigorous user testing, as well as focus groups and three well-designed clinical studies to refine usability
  • Published APIs (Application Programming Interfaces) to enable connectivity with third party applications and devices such as personal health monitors, weighing scales etc.
  • Provided strategic consultancy on taking the product to potential customers and partners

The Outcome

MapMyDiabetes has been very successful in achieving its goals. “It was great teamwork,” added Iain. “We were completely focused on executing what we set out to achieve, while Helastel were on hand to put it into robust and intelligently designed software. Listening to the positive feedback from patients and healthcare professionals, we know that this has changed countless lives for the better.”

NHS commissioning bodies and patients alike have embraced the software. Several GPs have sent ‘thank you’ letters expressing how it has not only helped patient outcomes and alleviated workloads, but also transformed the professional-patient relationship. For many GPs who felt there was once a parent-child dynamic between them and their patients, they are now delighted to see a new peer-to-peer relationship where they can meet and discuss the process they are making together against the disease.

In its first full year of operation:

  • MapMyDiabetes became the first in the world to define a standard for application information sharing on diabetes patient data
  • 40% more UK diabetes sufferers are proactively managing their condition
  • A total of 100,000 patients benefit from the software, with the number expected to rise as more are prescribed

The Future

Helastel and MapMyHealth are committed to continuous improvement through ongoing data gathering, analysis and iterative make-test-analyse cycles.

Having proven the success of its model in the UK market, MapMyHealth is looking further afield to new geographic markets such as the US, where type 2 diabetes is an equally significant public health issue.

The underlying software engine is also being used to develop similar products for other chronic diseases and conditions such as obesity and cancer.

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