New diabetes app emphasises foot care, foot ulcer awareness

Researchers from Singapore have recently introduced a mobile application that teaches diabetes patients about diabetic foot […]

Researchers from Singapore have recently introduced a mobile application that teaches diabetes patients about diabetic foot ulcers and self foot care.

Photo: Lukasz Szczepanski/Getty Images

Researchers from Singapore have recently introduced a mobile application that teaches diabetes patients about diabetic foot ulcers and self foot care.

WHAT IT DOES

Developed in consultation with clinicians from Tan Tock Seng Hospital (TTSH) and National Healthcare Group, the app called WellFeet delivers comprehensive patient education through animations in multiple languages, including English, Mandarin, Malay and Tamil. 

It also serves as a log and diary for patients, gamifying the daily tracking of their medication, physical activity, and diet. This data in turn allows doctors to monitor their progress and customise their exercise goals. 

Additionally, the app features a chatbot assistant for patients, which also delivers prompts for self-reflection to help them gain insight into their thoughts and feelings, identify patterns or triggers, and eventually take positive action to change their behaviour or mindset. 

The app was first tested in a research project involving some 800 patients and caregivers across five healthcare institutions in the country which probed their foot care behaviours. Another study also tested the app on 40 pairs of patients and caregivers from TTSH which later revealed positive changes in foot care behaviour and diabetes self-care routines after one month of app usage. 

The research team is now fine-tuning the app with a plan to potentially integrate AI and human health coaching to provide “more timely and personalised support.” It is slated to be released as a free-of-charge app to the public by mid-2024. The team also looks to collaborate with the Ministry of Health Office for Healthcare Transformation and investors to seek help in scaling the reach of their technology. 

Diabetic foot ulcers can afflict a third of patients living with diabetes. When left untreated, it can lead to lower limb amputation and increase the risk of death. It also has a high reoccurrence rate, further burdening patients with recurring costs of medication. 

According to the WellFeet research group led by Nanyang Technological University, existing apps for diabetes patients in the market do not include education and commonly focus on measuring ulcer progression. 

Patient education, they said, is a crucial component of effective prevention. What sets their app apart is how education is delivered through animations in multiple languages, catering to multi-ethnic populations.

Original Article: (https://www.mobihealthnews.com/news/asia/new-diabetes-app-emphasises-foot-care-foot-ulcer-awareness)