Doctors pioneer smartphone app to treat diabetes in hospital


Doctors at Southampton’s teaching hospitals have developed a pioneering smartphone app that is set to “transform” the treatment of patients with diabetes in hospital.

DiAppBetes, created by critical care expert Dr Sanjay Gupta and acute medicine and diabetes consultant Dr Mayank Patel at Southampton General Hospital, provides key information to support non-specialist doctors and nurses who look after patients with the condition.

Up to 20% of all adult patients in UK hospitals have diabetes, where long-term uncontrolled blood sugar levels increase the risk of heart and kidney failure and can lead to blindness, nerve damage and amputations without specialist intervention.

But, while some patients are admitted as a direct result of the illness, many require treatment for unrelated health problems and are cared for by medical staff who do not have the full expertise to manage diabetes alongside other conditions, increasing the risk of insulin errors.

The app, which is currently available for download on the iPhone and iPad and does not require internet connection for use, gives users information on the safe and effective use of insulin as well as dose adjustment advice, a search tool offering guidance on different treatments and advice on which circumstances warrant specialist input.

More than 2.8m people in the UK have diabetes – 90% of these have type 2, which is closely linked to obesity, diet and lifestyle – and many patients can spend anywhere between five to ten additional days in hospital if their condition is neglected.

“With the number of diabetes cases rising every year – cases of type 2 diabetes have doubled since 1996 and we could see the overall number of both types hit four million by 2025 – it has never been more important to ensure patients receive the right treatment early and this innovation will hopefully transform the way patients in hospital are cared for,” said Dr Patel.

“Not only will patients benefit by having their diabetes managed more effectively thanks to the advice available, but more complex patients will be referred to the inpatient diabetes outreach team more promptly. This will help to reduce the unnecessary extra days patients spend in hospital.”

Dr Gupta, who also developed the MicroGuide, the first smartphone app to help clinicians treat patients with infections, added: “This is the first app dedicated to enabling medical staff in all specialties to make quick, safe and effective decisions about diabetes and marks another milestone in our journey to provide medical teams with the best expert advice at the bedside through the latest technological advances.”

The development of DiAppBetes follows a recent project at University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust focusing on proactive treatment for hospital inpatients with diabetes which highlighted better understanding of the condition among non-specialist staff, a drop in diabetes-related clinical errors and a reduction in length of stay in hospital.

Posted on Tuesday 21 February 2012