Sweatcoin was selected onto the prestigious DigitalHeath.London Accelerator programme from many applicants, as one of the most promising innovative startups set to disrupt the NHS.
During their time on the programme Sweatcoin made invaluable connections including partnering with the NHS South West London Health & Care Partnership, following a pitch they gave at the Accelerator launch event for the 2019/20 cohort.
The two organisations went on to co-develop a bespoke product with the NHS team that is now being piloted in South West London (SWL) as part of their Diabetes Prevention Decathlon programme. It has the potential to stand alongside the NHS Diabetes Prevention Programme as a highly engaging national prevention programme. The current national programme has a 27% completion rate across SWL, whilst over 90% of the participants complete the Diabetes Prevention Decathlon programme and are still engaged after three months.
Sweatcoin and the Diabetes Decathalon:
Type 2 diabetes management is one of the biggest costs to the NHS with 11% of its total budget spent on management and treatment of complications. There are diabetes prevention programmes available, but these suffer from poor completion rates. Sweatcoin’s aim was to make diabetes prevention more accessible, more engaging, and ultimately deliver more impactful patient outcomes.
Sweatcoin worked with the NHS South West London Health & Care Partnership team to develop an entirely bespoke digital solution, tailored to the programme’s aims. The aims were to create a prevention programme that could sit alongside the current option, the nine-month long national programme, and as such offer patients a wider range of prevention options, one that included physical activity, social interactions and digital interactions in its core offer. A secondary aim was to also be digital first, to allow for lower cost and higher engagement in the new remote first world.
Every participant in the Diabetes Prevention Decathlon can, if they wish, download the free app co-designed by Sweatcoin and the NHS. The app will track their physical activity throughout the 10 week programme, and each person can collect reward points for achieving minimum activity targets. They then developed a catalogue of relevant and useful rewards with Merton Public Health that people on the programme can win with their points. Rewards were chosen to accompany the programme learnings. For example, one week, in the physical activity session, the programme would teach participants at-home resistance band exercise, and the participants could then get home workout equipment with their points.
There was also a big focus on community, and enhancing social cohesion – participants could pool their points together, to make a donation to a local charity.
All of the educational and learning activities were digitised onto the app too – videos were posted to the app, summarising what the group learned that week. There was also an option to enter a quiz, to earn that week’s reward.
Impact and outcomes:
The partnership has run two cohorts so far, both with incredible results. The existing NHS diabetes prevention programme has c. 27% completion rate. The first cohort of the Diabetes Decathlon programme with Sweatcoin had a 87% completion rate, and the second 100%. Other key results include:
- 1.39kg average weight loss per participant over 10 weeks
- 45% increase in daily step count between the start and the end of the programme
- £7 return for every £1 invested, as per the Social Value Bank evaluation completed
- 78% other ethnic groups started the programme
These results ultimately lead to life-changing patient outcomes for those involved. Another recognition of this is a nomination for the prestigious HSJ Value 2021 award, for ‘Diabetes Care Initiative of the Year’.
Challenges and key learnings:
This programme was an excellent example of partnerships in action. As the digital lead, Sweatcoin led on technology, with the South West London Health & Care Partnership leading on programme delivery. However none of this would have been possible without the Harlequins Foundation (who led on physical activity sessions), the Health Innovation Network (who provided grant funding to fund the project), and Merton Public Health (who led on curating incentives suitable for the target demographic). The team also worked closely with the Wandsworth Community Empowerment Network to reduce inequalities in the content and programme delivery.
The key learning has been understanding the power of these partnerships – the end result of these partnerships was far greater than the sum of each individual part.
The next step is developing an “off-the-shelf” solution, to roll out these programmes across London. This will enable other parts of the NHS to replicate the programme, and ultimately replicate our incredible results.
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Sweatcoin is an alumnus of the DigitalHealth.London Accelerator programme.
The DigitalHealth.London Accelerator is a collaborative programme funded by London’s three Academic Health Science Networks – UCL Partners, Imperial College Health Partners, and the Health Innovation Network, MedCity, CW+ and receives match funding from the European Regional Development Fund.