NHS roll-out of new Low Carb Program for type 2 diabetes

A new app that improves care and prescribing for those with type 2 diabetes could help the NHS achieve some of the ambitious targets outlined in the NHS Long Term Plan, says Dr Campbell Murdoch, GP and medical officer to Diabetes Digital Media. Speaking to Practice Business, he describes how technology can improve healthcare outcomes for vulnerable patients

The significant focus which the Long Term Plan has on digital healthcare services brings with it great opportunity for improved efficiency and effectiveness. The epidemics of type 2 diabetes, prediabetes and obesity require effective and evidenced-based tools that can be provided at scale.

The best digital services can empower patients, reduce GP practice workload and achieve better health outcomes at a significantly lower cost. For example, we now know that type 2 diabetes can be significantly improved – and often placed into remission – with a low carbohydrate approach, but patients require the awareness, knowledge and support to go on this journey and sustain it.

As a GP I know how challenging it is to try to cram all these tasks into a 10- or 15-minute appointment. One-to-one provision of education and support for all our patients would be would be hugely expensive and, in reality, unattainable; instead, digital self-management tools can take many of the non-clinical tasks away from clinicians.

In late December Digital Diabetes Media’s (DDM) Low Carb Program was approved by the NHS and entered into the NHS Apps Library. This is a digitally-delivered, evidence-based behaviour change platform for people with type 2 diabetes, prediabetes and obesity – and can make a significant contribution to tackling this life-changing condition. The Low Carb Program is approved by QISMET for delivery as structured education within the NHS and is certified as a MHRA Grade I Medical Device, complete with a CE Mark in compliance with EU regulations.

Low-carb programme

The Low Carb Program provides the knowledge and support needed to successfully adopt a low carbohydrate diet. Year one outcomes, published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research, show the Low Carb Program achieves an average weight loss of 7.4kg, an HbA1c reduction of 13mmol/mol, and 1-in-4 people place their type 2 diabetes into remission. Significant de-prescribing is also achieved, with data showing an average saving of £835 on prescription costs.

The ‘prescribing’ of the Low Carb Program by a clinician – just as we would a medication – is easy to do in a short appointment and slots straight in to current processes. This frees up time for the clinician to be able to focus on the core clinical tasks and still have time for an enjoyable, person-centred conversation. Practices are also using the Low Carb Program alongside group appointments and with health coaches.

Practice improvement, patient impact

Choosing the right digital solutions for your practice can be a simple and effective way to meet some Long Term Plan aims, creating wins for you, your patients and the wider NHS; an immediate and long term reduction in practice workload is achievable.

Patients are empowered to have control over their own health and the NHS achieves significant savings from reduced prescribing costs and reduced secondary care costs from diabetes and obesity-related complications. Tackling type 2 diabetes benefits everyone.

Dr Campbell Murdoch is a GP, medical officer at Diabetes Digital Media and a clinical advisor to NHS England’s sustainable improvement team and to the Royal College of General Practitioners. He is also physical activity clinical champion to Public Health England.

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