We welcomed Rebwar Hussein, Engagement Officer for Healthwatch Cambridgeshire and Peterborough to the meeting. Healthwatch are a statutory body and every part of the country has one, funded by the local authority. The aim is to improve health and care services for local people, and they act as an independent champion. They listen to people’s experiences of health services, and feed this back to those who plan, pay for or provide the care.
Healthwatch promotes local involvement in consultations including health and care forums. They have a statutory power to challenge care providers if care isn’t working the way it should or if decisions are being made without public contributions. Healthwatch has the “power” to enter and view health and care services to see what’s going on, report and make recommendations.
Around the county they have around 40 volunteers who are the eyes and ears in their local community. They listen and collect people’s stories and explain what Healthwatch does.
Healthwatch also provides an information service for people to find out about local health and social care services, how to complain and where to get help and advice.
Feedback can be given by calling 0330 355 1285 or via the web site www.healthwatchcambridgeshire.co.uk
A copy of Rebwar’s presentation is attached, and you are invited to share your thoughts on local services by following this link to an on-line form.
A new app for diabetes care – help needed
We then heard from Daniel Bailey, Brunel University, London who described work he is leading to develop a smartphone-based app to help those with diabetes. Most people now use smartphones and they can be used for both monitoring and guiding the patient.
The app Brunel is developing either monitors or allows input of data, such as weight, activity, glucose levels, heart, medication, mood etc. You can set goals for some of these, such as weight and activity. Activity can be tracked either by the phone or with a separate wearable device such as a Fitbit. In a similar way glucose levels can be either manually inputted or monitored with a wearable continuous monitoring sensor.
Results from their first trial showed increased physical activity, reduced periods of prolonged sitting, improvements in body fat% and glucose tolerance, and improvements in attitude, mood and wellbeing.
The app interacts not just with the individual user but with healthcare professionals and the healthcare system. A key part is the use of AI (Artificial Intelligence) to coach users to improve their conditions, taking over this role to some extent from healthcare professionals although they will be able to monitor patients through the system.
The targeted health behaviours for the study will be physical activity, sitting behaviour, dietary intake and medication adherence. These will be monitored by activity wearable devices, Flash glucose monitors, digital medication monitors and diet cameras (image analysis of your food to estimate calorific intake and proportions of carbs, protein etc.)
They are now making a funding application to the Wellcome Trust to move the app to the next level. As part of the application process they wanted to get feedback from potential users.
A lively discussion then followed, clarifying how the AI would be developed and tested, and the importance of involving people with lived experience of diabetes.