by David Garrell, Partnership Director, MyWay Digital Health Ltd. – 27th April, 2020

David Garrell, Partnership Director at Accelerator Alumnus MyWay Digital Health Ltd., shares his personal reflection on COVID-19, and how his work and the MyWay Digital Health’s platforms can support NHS teams and help people living with diabetes to stay safe and well during this time…

I joined MyWay Digital Health a year ago. One big pull for me was my personal use of the My Diabetes My Way (MDMW) platform to help me on my journey living with diabetes. What I also love about the company is its aim to help people with diabetes look after themselves and its focus on providing good quality, safe care through clinical review across all the platforms it delivers. The technology has been developed in the NHS for those living with diabetes and for NHS practitioners.

The NHS Long Term Plan has key aspirations for the care of long-term conditions, for example in providing support for self-management and in decision support, but also specifically for diabetes. The work I do is aligned with these aspirations and can help enable both citizens with diabetes and healthcare systems to deliver care at a local level in a collaborative way.

I have heard a lot about the benefits of the DigitalHealth.London Accelerator from our CEO/CMO and co-founder Dr Debbie Wake. For me the informal support given to Accelerator alumni, and the access to networks and events has been invaluable.

Diabetes and COVID-19

We are seeing clinics and routine appointments now either being cancelled or being done by phone and other remote methods. There is also a lot being written about the increased risks for anyone with diabetes who contracts the virus, such as more severe symptoms and increased probability of mortality.

People like me with diabetes need ongoing advice and structured education programmes, so we understand how to look after ourselves – this is no longer possible in person. Key care processes which are the bedrock of healthy living with diabetes are also more difficult, if not impossible to deliver.

My Way Digital Health have a range of options to assist in the care of people with diabetes during these strange and somewhat stressful times. The full list can be found here.

Our acute phase offerings include:

  • A free online course for those with Type 2 diabetes:

Diabetes COVID-19

So far over 1,600 people have registered, so I expect there to be some good conversations as well as a helpful exchange of information and support – the more the merrier, so please circulate widely if still in date so more can benefit! Find out more here.

  • My Diabetes Education:

My Diabetes Education is an online education platform with over 200 resources, different language content and accredited education for all types of diabetes. For the duration of the pandemic this can be set up in 3-5 days and costs are as low as we can manage.

Diabetes COVID-19

  • MyDiabetes My Way

MyDiabetes My Way is a fully comprehensive platform for patients and is what I personally use – it is linked to my electronic health record into which I can add home-recorded data. There is a lot I could say about this platform but the essence is that I can see my data and I can decide what I need to focus on, whether that’s in everyday life or when getting ready for appointments. It gives me the ability to take actions on care decisions by remote communication without seeing a medical professional – an invaluable tool at present.

I also have a quick access source of trusted information. This has been critical to get a copy of sick day rules quickly when I need them. Presently I can find up-to-date advice relating to the ever-developing understanding of COVID-19 and how I may be affected by it. You can find more information here.

Diabetes COVID-19

  • MyDiabetes Clinical

Health care professionals can work more effectively across the system with the right information and tools in front of them. My Diabetes Clinical acts as both an in-clinic record and population management tool. Learn more here.

  • Data analytics

Finally, MyWay Digital Health are doing some cutting-edge work on data analytics that can predict diabetes complications and support personalised treatment decisions. This can help with prioritisation of care for those at highest risk. This is an issue during COVID-19, when there is limited health care resource and new risk associated with physical clinic attendance.

Clearly there is still a lot of debate and uncertainty on the possible outcomes of the pandemic. For example, over the need for continued social distancing and the period of time over which current restrictions will be lifted; whether those who have recovered from infection have developed an immune response which leads to herd immunity over time.

What we can be certain of is that there has been an amazing short-term impact on the health service including a huge uptake of digital tools and remote working practices. They say that it takes six weeks to form new good habits. NHS teams are being forced into these ways of working but will they be seen as a ‘good habit’ to maintain as the dust settles? Time, of course, will tell.

I know that what I do for a living and the services that MyWay Digital Health provide can help people manage diabetes remotely both those with a diagnosis and those who care for them across the NHS.

When the time is right, I would like to support the planning for the next stage of the pandemic, helping to answer questions such as, how do I and others with diabetes stay well whilst minimising frequency of visits to hospitals or primary care centres? How can we adapt ways of working to be more effective at targeting resources to those in need whilst maintaining equity of access for all?

I am incredibly grateful to be living in this country and in this era – I have access to technology which can keep me safe, keep my diabetes in a good place and keep me connected with my family, friends and colleagues across the UK. 

If anyone wants to get in touch I can be contacted via david.garrell@mwdh.co.uk .

In the meantime, look after yourself!