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British NHS To Give Out Wearables For Diabetes Prevention


National Health Service to distribute exercise monitors.


Photo/Thumb have been modified. Courtesy of Timo Newton-Syms via flickr. Creative Commons.

Insurers and employers in the United States have used wearable technology to monitor the movement, and health, of thousands of willing participants.

Now the National Health Service in the United Kingdom is going to monitor 40,000 or more persons with “wearables” as part of its “Diabetes Prevention Programme,” officials announced yesterday.

The program showed promise in a pilot of the digital program, already involving more than 5,000 people, the agency said.

“The success of the pilot’s early findings shows we are breaking new ground to help those most at risk of Type 2 diabetes to literally take their health into their own hands at their own time and pace,” said Jennifer Smith, the diabetes programme director of Public Health England. “Many of us use on-the-go digital technology every day and this is a fabulous next step in diabetes prevention.”

The British plan is to allow participants to set and monitor their own goals, while giving access to health coaches and peer support groups, additionally.

The digital program was more widely accepted than traditional outreach, with nearly seven in 10 taking part — as opposed to just half of face-to-face participation, according to officials.

As part of the new digital expansion of the diabetes program, the users will receive wearables monitoring exercise levels, complete with apps allowing connection to support groups and educational resources for those deemed at-risk.

The NHS Long Term Plan sees preventing diabetes as a major health goal in a country, where Type 2 diabetes leads to a tab of more than £6 billion annually — as well as 9,000 yearly amputations, they said.

“With millions of people in the UK at increased risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, it’s vital that the NHS England Diabetes Prevention Programme is able to reach as many people as possible,” said Nikki Joule, a policy manager at the group Diabetes UK. “This could be vital in reaching more the millions of people at risk of Type 2 diabetes, and in helping to reduce the increasing prevalence of the condition.”

Early reports indicated that the wearables would be Fitbits, but the government agency did not specify which brand of device was used in the pilot — or will be distributed in the coming long-term diabetes program.

Fitbit has seen somewhat of a resurgence in its use, especially due to recent partnerships with companies projects such as UnitedHealthcare Motion, and Solera Health, as well as major insurers such as Blue Cross Blue Shield’s Blue 365 program and Humana’s employer group segment.

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