How a British start-up got involved in Singapore’s diabetes prevention campaign

The Singapore government is using data to help cure diabetes

Singapore’s Ministry of Health has a big mandate to tackle the diabetes problem in the country, which places a huge strain on its healthcare system.

A large part of that is access to information and big spend ad campaigns that try and educate the population. But, in a country that has a major smart city mandate, it is also seeking solutions that have a heavy tech influence.

This is where a British start-up comes into the fray. Tictrac, a digital therapeutics business, has co-created an online hub for the entire Singapore population to use its technology. The Healthhub Track allows people to find guidance on staying healthier, using their smart devices and personal health trackers to customise the service.

Martín Blinder, founder and CEO of Tictrac, says the next stage in the trend for digital self care is using services that focus on chronic disease.

“Digital Therapeutics have the power to revolutionise how people prevent and manage non-communicable diseases (NCDs) and relieve the burden on public health services across the world. While popular consumer apps, such as Headspace and MyFitnessPal, help us do things like meditate or manage our diet, Digital Therapeutics take things one step further and focus specifically on the prevention and management of chronic diseases such as Hypertension and Diabetes (Type 2),” he explains.

“Thanks to the ability of these technologies to connect data on an individual’s vital statistics gathered via relevant apps that monitor exercise and movement, and wearables, such as a Fitbit or Apple Watch, the journeys become completely personalised to each user. This optimises the relevance of information for each user and enables the platform to provide even more personalised recommendations. People can then select their health pathway, such as preventing Diabetes (type 2), enabling the platform to deliver a plan that is geared towards helping them achieve their goal,” he adds.

Specific to diabetes, the service helps people create a personalised program that is specific to their lifestyle, so can provide informed guidance on how best to stay healthy through their exercise routine, sleep pattern and diet. The Healthhub app connects with over 1000 apps or wearables.

This is critical for Singapore, which is a country with over 400,000 people with diabetes.

Blinder says, “One in three is likely to get Diabetes in their lifetime. In 2017, the Singapore Ministry of Health started working with Tictrac to launch Healthhub Track, which provides all six million of Singapore’s citizens with access to Digital Therapeutics programmes free-of-charge. Singapore is a forward-thinking nation which is implementing smart technologies to help prevent illnesses, and this smart initiative gives a real glimpse into what the future of healthcare holds.”

A key aspect to the project is making the information easy to understand, as the wealth of data that is now created around health does not necessarily mean it’s accessible to most people. “Rather than dumping raw data from our various apps and devices, the platform translates that raw data into actionable insights. The ultimate intention is to keep people off medication and out of the hospital, living healthier, happier, longer lives,” explains Binder.

In terms of what is next for Tictrac, the business is now looking at how it can roll out similar projects worldwide and create a bigger movement around people taking accountability for their health.

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