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Soaring patient referrals in diabetes prevention programme – thanks to ICB texting pilot

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The NHS Diabetes Prevention Programme has seen a 1000% surge in patient referrals thanks to a study by Meddbase – using ICB texting over traditional postal invites.

A pilot study of almost 800 pre-diabetic patients has shown the significant potential of ICB-managed text messaging, more than doubling the number of pre-diabetes patients attending sessions over a three-month period.

The study was designed to explore whether using the latest digital communications software, and managing it at ICB-level, is more effective than traditional postal invites when it comes to engaging patients in healthy lifestyle programmes.

It was conducted by Meddbase, an advanced clinical management system provider, and NHS Humber and North Yorkshire Integrated Care Board.

It’s your GP texting

The results from the study and the key learnings for ICBs, including the importance of data quality and the need to facilitate patient choice, are explored in detail in a new white paper report:

‘It’s your GP texting: Utilising technology at ICB level to deliver a tenfold increase in referrals to the NHS Diabetes Prevention Programme’.

The study findings demonstrate how utilising technology at ICB level has the potential to deliver huge increases in patient engagement in healthy lifestyle programmes, such as the NDPP.

It found that using patient identification tools and automated text message prompts led to:

● 1,000%+ increase in NDPP referrals – from an average of 32 referrals per month to 363 per month
● 331% increase in the number of patients attending at least one session of the NDPP programme (defined as ‘Milestone 1’) – with the previous monthly average of 16 patients rising to 69 in the first month of the study
● 181% increase in the number of patients attending sessions over a three-month period – with the findings showing an average of 45 patients reaching Milestone 1 each month, compared with the pre-study baseline average of 16

Pilot brings “phenomenal success” for diabetes scheme

The NDPP was developed by NHS England and Diabetes UK and offers patients at risk of type 2 diabetes free support from an evidence-based lifestyle programme.

Some two million people in the UK are classed as having pre-diabetes, meaning they are likely to develop the condition if they don’t change their lifestyle.

To date, one million people have followed the programme, with data showing that it reduces the chances of developing diabetes by 37% – but it can only have the desired impact with patient participation.

Commenting on the pilot, Scott Walker, Senior Partnership Officer (Diabetes) at NHS Humber and North Yorkshire ICB, said: “We’ve seen phenomenal success with this pilot, which was driven by user need.

“Previously, we had to wait to achieve the critical mass required to make our diabetes prevention programme viable, but we can now confidently say that we will have enough patients to start a group.

“In fact, the success of the pilot has given us the confidence to bring in additional human resources to manage patient conversions. That’s the beauty of this solution – the untapped potential is huge.”

Dr Tom Milligan, a GP and the Clinical Lead for Diabetes in Humber and North Yorkshire, added: “Before this study, I thought we were doing NDPP referrals well, but in fact we were missing hundreds of patients with pre-diabetes.

“The software used for this pilot enabled the ICB to conduct advanced searches for the first time, so they could identify, invite and refer patients that would otherwise have been missed.

“The result was far greater uptake of the NDPP as well as significant time saved for clinical staff. Given the current capacity challenges within General Practice and the cost to the NHS of lifestyle-related conditions like type 2 diabetes to the NHS, the findings here could have a huge impact.”

Erin Johnston, NHS Product Owner at Meddbase, said: “It has been exciting to work with colleagues at the NHS Humber and North Yorkshire ICB on this pilot, which has achieved brilliant results using our innovative clinical management software to reach patients at-scale as part of an effective and efficient programme.

“The outcome clearly shows that a strategic ICB-managed approach to patient communications, supported by the right kind of clinical management software, can have a significant impact on uptake of healthy lifestyle programmes.”

Webinar for strategic ICB approach

In addition to the whitepaper, Humber and North Yorkshire ICB is working with Meddbase to provide a free webinar on how to deliver a strategic ICB-managed approach to increase patient uptake in healthy lifestyle programmes.

The webinar will take place on Tuesday 22nd November from 12-1pm.

Sign-up here

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