NHS England has appointed behavioural change organisation Changing Health to use digital technology to tackle issues around Type 2 diabetes in the UK.

Changing Health has built a digital platform designed to encourage large-scale behaviour change in people diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes to help them manage their condition.

Type 2 diabetes currently costs the NHS around £8.8bn a year, with 3.4m people in the UK currently living with the disease and a further 200,000 diagnosed each year.

Changing Health uses artificial intelligence (AI) to provide users with highly personal and relevant evidence and guidance about their health, based in education and lifestyle coaching. The company claims that this can help users make positive lifestyle changes and sustain them over the long term.

Its Type 2 diabetes programme is known as Management. It teaches patients about what a healthier lifestyle could look like for them, and introduces them to a personal lifestyle coach who they can work with to set achievable diet and exercise goals.

Management also allows patients to track their meals and weight loss to monitor their progress.

Once a patient is referred to the programme by their NHS GP, they are given access to all of Changing Health’s information and tracking tools, which they can access via a tablet, phone or computer.

Changing Health co-founder and chief scientific officer Professor Mike Trenell said: “Type 2 diabetes places an enormous burden on people living with the condition and the care systems looking after them. We believe this approach will enable the NHS to deliver personalised support at scale – which is hugely exciting.”

During an initial trial of the Management platform through a North West London collaboration of care commissioning groups (CCGs), users were found to consume an average of 995 fewer calories per day. They also reported a mean reduction of 6.8 in HbA1c after three months, and an average weight loss of 7.4kg after 12 weeks.

Overall, this led to a ten-point increase in patient activation measure (PAM) scores, a tool which GPs use to understand a patient’s activity level and their knowledge and ability to manage their long-term condition. This ten-point increase equates to a possible 20% reduction in hospitalisation and a 20% improvement in medication adherence.

NHS England national clinical director for diabetes and obesity Professor Jonathan Valabhji said: “We are living in an increasingly digital age with people managing most aspects of their lives online; the rollout of this programme will give people the opportunity to get support for their Type 2 diabetes online too.”