Approximately 80% of Canada’s health-care dollars go to the treatment of chronic illnesses. Health care professionals are turning to smartphone technology to help patients monitor chronic illnesses—saving lives with devices that most of us only use to send text messages and play with apps.
Across the globe. These are labeled the big five: (1) diabetes, (2) heart disease, (3) respiratory issues, (4) cancer and (5) mental illness. These top five issues are expected to cost health-care systems $47 trillion over the next 20 years, according to a 2011 report from the World Economic Forum.
There are big dollars at stake and the longer these health care issues remain underfunded the more the costs keep accelerating upwards.
Dr. Joseph Cafazzo is senior director at the Centre for Global eHealth Innovation at Toronto’s University Health Network (UHN). His multidisciplinary team of 70 experienced doctors, nurses, software engineers and designers have the mission to developing new technology that will tackle our health issues so we can know when they are about to become acute and require medical attention.
Keep patients on track with home care and remote monitoring, and they’re less likely to end up in the hospital or on expensive drugs.
The iPhone app calle Bant was developed by the UHN team. Bant comes from the name 'Frederick Banting', co-discoverer of insulin. Bant connects via Bluetooth to a LifeScan glucometer.
Diabetic teenagers present a challenge to health professionals because they typically are reluctant to take out their blood glucose monitors at school several times a day, prick their fingers and take readings.
The Bant app includes gamification elements that reward teens with iTunes store credits every time they use their glucometer.
UHN ran a three-month, Health Canada-approved clinical trial of Bant in 2011 with 20 diabetics aged 12 to 16. With the app, participants monitored their blood 49.6% more frequently—from 2.38 to 3.56 times a day, on average (the target is a minimum of four times).
The monitoring picked up 271 three-day abnormal blood-glucose trends (a future version of Bant will reward users for correcting imbalances), and 161 rewards were handed out; 50% of the teens received 10 prizes each from iTunes.
The Bant app is a constant reminder to young diabetics that they can keep their condition from worsening if they modify their behaviour.