MIGUIDE: AN APP AS RECIPE FOR PEOPLE WITH TYPE 2 DIABETES
Klik hier voor de Nederlandse versie.
Mobile lifestyle coach and the ultimate digital extension of the GP practice’
Get an app prescribed by the doctor instead of medication. That may soon be the most normal thing in the world for patients with type 2 diabetes. MiGuide will help them get working on their lifestyle and gain more control over their own health. ‘Sustainable lifestyle changes can be achieved with small steps.’
Type 2 diabetes is a disease which is largely lifestyle-related. The body no longer effectively responds to insulin. That’s the hormone which regulates blood sugar. Little physical activity, obesity, an unhealthy diet, smoking and aging, to name but a few, increase the risk of the disease. However, the fact that type 2 diabetes is lifestyle-related also means that the disease can be reduced or even completely reversed. Simply by making some lifestyle changes.
MiGuide was founded in 2016 from that perspective. MiGuide is an initiative by ExpertDoc, TNO and PEX Life and aims to use smart technology to help people with type 2 diabetes to adopt a better lifestyle. Allowing people to take control of their health and ultimately needing less medication. ‘We make lifestyle changes simple and permanent by focussing on prevention. We’re also helping the healthcare system as a whole by reducing pressure on both healthcare and healthcare costs,’ according to Rebecca Taylor, Chief Product Officer at MiGuide. ‘This means we’re responding to the development of remote personal healthcare too. A development which took off in 2020 when the Covid-19 pandemic broke out.’
MOBILE LIFESTYLE COACH
MiGuide consists of two parts: an app for patients and the MiGuide healthcare portal for GP’s and practice nurses. ‘The app serves as a kind of mobile lifestyle coach for patients,’ Rebecca tells us. ‘We focus on the four most important components of lifestyle: nutrition, exercise, sleep and stress. We currently use a baseline measurement and the analysis of the medical questionnaires to know where the patient stands. From there we advise, coach and give you challenges. The starting point is always: what do you want to achieve? This forces people to think about what they want. Only then will you become intrinsically motivated.’
LINK TO A GP
One specific element which distinguishes MiGuide from other lifestyle-related apps is that the app can be linked to the GP Information System. Once this has been linked, patients can view their medical file. ‘But it also works the other way around,’ Rebecca emphasises. ‘It’s also easier for the GP or the practice nurse to monitor how a patient is doing, as we stimulate self-measurements such as weight, blood sugar levels and blood pressure. At a time which suits the patient. A questionnaire to prepare for a consultation can also be completed in advance, allowing you to instantly go into in-depth detail during the consultation. This has made the app a digital extension of the GP practice.’
MiGuide can personalise lifestyle advice by using data and proven insights into the target group. Medical advisor – and former GP – Bart Brandenburg is closely involved. He has conducted a great deal of research into behavioural changes in recent years. MiGuide’s methods are based, for example, on the American social scientist BJ Fogg’s tiny habits theory. Rebecca: ‘His main message is that you can realise the most sustainable change if you take small steps. We believe in that too. It’s easy enough to say: lose weight quickly, but that often doesn’t work in the long term. Nor are individual solutions such as the dietician and the physiotherapist, who work alongside each other. We also work together with the National Diabetes Fund, among others, who provide part of the content. So the advice we give truly comes from reliable, scientific sources.’
This means MiGuide can therefore call itself a Digital Therapeutics app. These are science-based therapeutic interventions, powered by top quality software programmes to prevent, control, or treat a medical condition or disease. ‘Plus we are also the only one which specifically focuses on type 2 diabetes. This allows us to really bridge the gap between the patient on the one hand, who will increasingly see remote digital healthcare as something which happens as a matter of course, or even demand it. And, on the other hand, the GP’s who often find it difficult to effectively organise self-care for their patients, simply because they don’t have the right resources in place.’
MiGuide is currently investigating how the app works in various research groups of 100 to 1,000 participants. Rebecca: ‘We’re now focussing more on quality than quantity. We want to get the results as good as possible and improve the app based on data, making sure we’ll be ready in 2022. This is when we expect remote digital self-care to experience a real breakthrough. For example, we’re currently expanding our food database, because we’ve been told foreign apps are much more advanced in this area. We also organise many workshops for GP’s who are interested in this.’
‘We’re already working with the Municipality of Rotterdam, Rotterdam Sportsupport and the Gezond op Zuid care group in the Rotterdam region. We also work with innovative healthcare groups in other regions, such as the GP team. The more healthcare providers we have on our side, the more effectively we’ll be able to convince health insurers that they should also be reimbursing lifestyle apps in addition to medication.’
Date: 15 March 2022