UK-backed study tests wearable, motivational app for diabetes prevention

By Jonah Comstock

King's Health Partners, an academic science center, and health wearable company Buddi, both UK-based, are testing a combination of a wearable device and a mobile app to help keep at-risk patients from developing Type 2 diabetes. The randomized control trial, which starts next month, will follow 200 patients with prediabetes over the course of a year in the London boroughs of Lambeth and Southwark. The study is funded in part by the UK government, via a grant from InnovationUK. 

Buddi has manufactured a wearable mPERS product for a number of years, but this is among the first tests of a prediabetes product called Nujjer, which uses the same wearable hardware with new software and firmware to address a new use case in the chronic disease prevention space.

"Nujjer is a clinical grade wearable wristband with an insurative app," Georgie Johnson, business development manager at Buddi, told MobiHealthNews. "The messages on the app have been developed by the clinical team at King’s and ultimately the system helps people make small changes in their lifestyle, which has a significant impact on their health."

The wearable monitors participants' sleep and activity automatically and users can push a button on the side of the wearable to track how often they eat. The app uses this information to create motivational and supportive messages to encourage a healthy balance of eating, sleeping, and exercise.

"This motivational interviewing has been shown to make a significant impact on patients at this stage," Johnson said. "It’s motivational interviewing traditionally given in a face to face environment that clinicians have translated into these motivational text messages. They encourage the patients to change their behavior and the focus is around their diet and their activity levels."

Buddi hasn't commercialized Nujjer, but may do so if trials like this one go well, Johnson said. The company hopes to have results by the end of the year.

"In the face of the explosive growth of the obesity and type 2 diabetes epidemic, not only in London but globally, continued innovations in clinical services are required and the NHS is in need of new cost effective tools," Khalida Ismail, co-leader of the King’s Health Partners Diabetes Clinical Academic Group, said in a statement. "Current intensive and expensive methods are not sustainable given the projected growth of the disease and we have a duty to develop new solutions to help tackle the problem."