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SGH and Duke-NUS to study effectiveness of mobile app in insulin therapy

Jack Loo | Oct. 2, 2013
The IHiS-designed tool will be used to help guide diabetes patients though self-administered insulin injections.

The Singapore General Hospital (SGH) and Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School have announced plans for a trial to test if a locally-designed mobile app can guide patients through insulin injections without doctor's supervision.

"This study will guide us on how to further employ mobile technologies to transform healthcare where there is partnership between the patient and doctor in managing the patient's health," said Dr Chong Yoke Sin, Chief Executive Officer, IHiS.

The app, "SGH Diabetes Pal" was developed by the Singapore General Hospital (SGH) Department of Endocrinology and Integrated Health Information Systems (IHiS), the technology support arm for Singapore's public sector healthcare units. The app is targeted at patients with type 2 diabetes who are not confident about taking the correct levels of insulin dosage.

Patients using the SGH Diabetes Pal simply need to test their blood sugar level every morning before breakfast and input the reading into the mobile app. Based on the data entered and the patients' prescribed treatment plan, the app will prompt them on the dosage of the insulin injection they need to administer to achieve optimum blood sugar levels.

SGH Diabetes Pal features a dynamic guide that prompts the patient on what to do based on data on his changing real-time condition. For instance, if the reading shows the patient's blood sugar is low, the app will immediately alert him to lower or stop the insulin dosage. The app also automatically generates graphs from the daily readings, so patients can easily see their progress in managing their diabetes.

The administration function of the mobile web app enables doctors and healthcare staff to remotely monitor the patient's progress. They can quickly intervene and modify the treatment plan, or communicate with him over the phone, between clinic visits.

"This study can potentially change current practices and improve the clinical understanding of diabetes management given the pervasiveness and simplicity of mobile apps," said Dr Bee Yong Mong, Director, Diabetes Centre and Consultant, Department of Endocrinology, SGH. Dr Bee is also the site-Principal Investigator of the study.

A total of 80 patients who are new to insulin therapy will be recruited for trial. They will be divided into two groups and receive individual counselling on all aspects of insulin treatment but only one group will be given access to the SGH Diabetes Pal. At the end of the study, the treatment results between both groups will be compared.

"Despite continuing research efforts towards improving healthcare delivery and disease outcomes for patients with diabetes, research gaps in diabetes management remain, particularly in the Asian setting. The need to improve diabetes management deserves greater attention in Singapore where incidence is among the highest in developed countries, and diabetes prevalence is consistently high across ethnic groups," said Professor David Matchar, Director for Health Services and Systems Research, Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School.


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