Increasing Diabetes Literacy among Young Population using mHealth Technology

A Pilot Initiative in selected districts of Himachal Pradesh

Partnership objectives 

  1. To develop the content of the mobile application based on need assessment
  1. To determine various perceptions influencing the behavioural intention to accept mHealth app for ‘diabetes literacy’, ‘risk management’ and ‘access to healthcare services’
  2. To evaluate user’s perspectives and experience on the use of application 

The project was conducted in Shimla and Solan Districts of Himachal Pradesh The project was conducted in Shimla and Solan Districts of Himachal Pradesh Copyright BMS

What are the health needs and challenges?

According to the National data, the prevalance of diabetes in Himachal Pradesh is 4.3 per cent which is high. If the condition is not managed effectively diabetes can lead to severe and costly complications, including cardiovascular disease, renal failure and blindness. 

The project was conducted in Shimla and Solan Districts of Himachal Pradesh, a hilly terrain in Northern India. 

Around 90 per cent of the people residing in the hilly and difficult terrains of Himachal Pradesh do not have access to health services. Average distance travelled by one health worker per day also varies from 15 meters to 2 kms in inaccessible and accessible areas. Energy spent per day to perform house visit is also comparatively more in hilly terrain as compared to plain areas. 

The hilly terrain creates challenge for the rural population to access the health care services and therefore people need to be given health information that comes handy and easy to understand. 

Description of partnership activities and how they address needs and challenges 

The project aimed at generating awareness on diabetes through a mobile app. Self management of conditions and awareness on diabetes through a mobile app plays a key role. Given the reach of mobile networks and connected services, mHealth solutions can play a vital role in primary prevention of diabetes and continuous monitoring of disease trends. 

Diab Info is a need based mobile app developed for the community utilizes text and video content to provide information and promote diabetes self-management skills without complex navigation. It helps to create a daily track of their own health records like blood glucose level, medicines, physical activity etc. Behavioural indicators for diabetes were also a part of the app such as diet patterns, quitting alcohol and tobacco. 

Activities done in the community to introduce the mobile health app, its visibility and use 

  • Content development of mobile app and IVRS was done based on the result of the Need assessment. Side wise a call center was established to provide one to one support about the right knowledge about availability of service as well as facilitate for fixing appointment for visit to health facility.
  • Validation of content was done in a concentration population.
  • Advocacy with key stake holder from health, education and youth was done in a regular manner to promote the app and its use.
  • Orientation and sensitization of stakeholders from three departments, viz.  Health, Education, and Youth Affairs was done.
  • Promotional Activities were carried out time to time to promote and popularize the use of app and IVRS system.
  • Regular Feedback mechanism from stake holders and end user were taken for continuous improvement in user-friendliness of the technology as well as the content.

The beneficiaries after downloading and installing the app could view their status and learn on diabetes. 

Summary of impact and forward looking information 

A cross-sectional quantitative household survey was undertaken among 834 men and women of 10-44 years age group. 48.4 % found the app is useful in behaviour change like daily physical activities and 53.6% found the app useful in controlling the diet. In the case of early detection and symptoms of diabetes, more than 56% respondents replied that the application will benefit the user. 

52.4% have found the app useful in understanding the preventive measures of diabetes and 49.5% found it easy to tell if they are at risk for diabetes. About 45% of individuals have found that the application makes the individual easy to understand about management of the disease. 

The Diab Info application has been installed (offline and online) in 467 devices including 227 downloads from Google Play Store.

Conclusion

  • mHealth initiative has been proven a potential empowerment tool for self management of diabetes and of significant value in hilly region of the country.
  • Diab Info app was developed for the community and it is a need based app. The information provided by the community has been included in the app and, this particular phenomenon has led to the acceptance and success of mobile health technology.
  • The project was facilitated by IT experts and it added significant value in providing training and convincing the enabling user.
  • Effective training of the users and integration of the health systems is required at every step so that the app is used to achieve the desired objectives to access health services.

Measurement of progress towards objectives 

Estimated overall value of partnership:

Continuous support and guidance from BMSF instilled faith and confidence in MAMTA staff to do good work. Healthy partnership with BMSF resulted in building productive relationship and achieved the desired objectives and the mobile app has been useful tool for diabetes awareness. 

Estimated amount of people impacted:

The project has reached out to 834 beneficiaries directly and about 49,000 beneficiaries were reached indirectly. The project was facilitated by IT experts and it added significant value in providing training and convincing the enabling user. Reached out to 62 Key multi-stakeholders meetings with representative of Nehru Yuva Kendra (NYK), Counsellors of wards, Pradhans (community leaders), Ward representative, school principal, students and teachers. Two orientation workshops with healthcare providers of public and private health facilities were conducted. 14 Camps in schools and colleges were organised. Nine Meetings in the community setting using the canopy based camp approach in various premium locations.

Partnership information

Company(ies) Bristol-Myers Squibb

Partner(s) Mamta Health Institute for Mother and Child

Type of Partner(s) Academia / Hospitals

Therapeutic Focus Non-Communicable Diseases

Disease(s) Diabetes

Program Type(s) Health System Infrastructure - mHealth, Health System Infrastructure - Training, Prevention Programs - Awareness & Outreach

Region(s)

Research Country(ies) India

Start Date 2015

Completed date 2016

« Language of this application is very simple for me. It has helped me to improve my sedentary life style.Now I am doing self management through this app like diet control, increasing physical exercise. »

Patient