Using Data to Improve Health Care for Persons Living with Diabetes
A recent edition of The Economist (Feb. 3) was entitled “DOCTOR YOU: How data will transform health care”. The article described how timely access to personal health data is enabling patients and their providers to develop and implement care paths that lead to improved outcomes. A similar message was articulated by Ed Clark in his 2016 Report “Value and Opportunities Created by Ontario Digital Health Assets”. Mr. Clark recommends that “all Ontarians should have online access to their own health information, such as test results, and to proven tools that enable them to book appointments, request prescription refills/renewals, connect with health care providers, manage their health, and share information as they choose to with others involved in their care.” He emphasizes that, to date, the province has established many pieces of the digital health record system, but the lack of access by patients to their data and inability of health professionals to reach out proactively for preventative and follow-up care represents the critically important “last mile”. Diabetes Action Canada is focused on bridging this last mile and in this edition of our newsletter you will learn about the innovations in digital communication that Drs. Joe Cafazzo and Shivani Goyal are designing to address this challenge. Their mobile app, called bant (after Sir Frederick Banting), originally designed for assisting the glucose monitoring in children with Type 1 Diabetes, has evolved into a powerful tool assisting the self-management of individuals with Type 1 or Type 2 Diabetes. In addition, it aids direct communication with health care providers and will link to digital health systems to access and share data necessary for surveillance of diabetes-related risk factors. It will prompt and guide intervention based on the most up-to-date evidence-based care guidelines. Patient-oriented research projects are now underway to evaluate the effectiveness of bant for improving health outcomes that will inform continued iterative development of this app. This work complements our Proof-of-Concept national diabetes repository project and will be used for recruitment of subjects into our pragmatic clinical trials. We view the future application of bant as a key success factor in achieving our mission.
Also in this newsletter you will read about the engagement of our Patient Partners in important teaching and learning activities aimed at building patient-oriented research capacity. We are very proud to be working with Diabetes Canada and recognize their fund-raising of support from Manulife for the expansion of our Aboriginal Youth Mentorship Program into the Toronto First Nations School – the first inner-city site in Canada. Diabetes Action Canada is represented on the Steering Committee and working groups for the World Economic Forum led Value in HealthCare Pilot in Type 2 Diabetes project in Ontario. We are forging ahead in strategic networking.
We close by wishing success to all of our investigators who are submitting research grants this Spring. We are looking forward to our Annual Workshop on May 4,5 in Toronto where we will network with many of our Patient Partners, Investigators, Steering Council and sponsor representatives to evaluate progress and to co-design next steps for all of our projects.
Gary Lewis and Jean-Pierre Després