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Propel@YH helped to make us NHS ready

Written by: Maddie Julian - 15th September 2020

Applications to be part of the 2020 cohort of our digital health accelerator, Propel@YH, close next week. In today’s blog we hear from a member of the class of 2019. Maddie Julian is Co-Founder and Co-Director of digital service DigiBete. Here she writes why, faced with a complex illness, a baby who couldn’t tell her what was wrong with him, and trying to understand reams of written information when both she and her husband have dyslexia, they created DigiBete.

Otis had developed Type 1 diabetes, an autoimmune condition where the body stops producing insulin. He’s now a healthy six year old despite living with the challenges of Type 1. You go through a steep learning curve with this complex illness even if your diabetes is diagnosed when you’re an adult.

We struggled to take in all the written guidance in hospital and so asked Leeds Children’s Hospital – where Otis was diagnosed – if we could film the initial practical training that people who are diagnosed with diabetes undergo in order to review it, whenever we or other families needed it.

Because we both have a background in performance and media, we saw the opportunity to use our filming to help other families. We soon had 200 useful films, and eventually DigiBete was born as a web-based community-interest company in partnership with the diabetes team at Leeds Children’s Hospital who clinically approve all of DigiBete’s resources. It’s a free-to-access site and you can register for the app by contacting your local diabetes team and getting a free code.

The web platform has 67,000 users, with the app being adopted in 140 paediatric clinics, and we are so proud that in June the app was made available on the NHS to help people manage their condition remotely during the pandemic.

NHS investment in the technology means that patients will be offered resources to support their treatment and care, as well as training to adopt healthy behaviours on diet and exercise. Remote support will complement patients’ appointments through video consultations or via telephone, and more recently in COVID protected areas.

I must say that we had fantastic support from the AHSN through the Propel@YH programme as we went down the path of pitching to the NHS. The team ensured there were no questions that would be asked by NHS commissioners that we couldn’t answer, and that we filled in all our knowledge gaps, thoroughly worked on our safety and IT, and had every single policy and procedure in place.

It put us through a finishing school and helped to make us NHS-ready. This prepared us for the next stage of growth and opened the door for the future.

Diabetes is a tough condition to live with but you can live well with it. It’s DigiBete’s responsibility to work out how we can help our community – our app users. We’re now working with the NHS Diabetes programme across England to measure clinical changes in app users’ glucose control and quality of life, and on a real world evaluation by Future Health funded by the AHSN.

Propel@YH has been such a support and for that we are truly grateful.

Find out more about Digibete

Find out more about Propel@YH