Sweatcoin and South West London: Collaboration in digital health for Diabetes Prevention


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 diabetes case study

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. 

Sweatcoin diabetes case study
The enthusiasm, commitment and inspiration of the training team was excellent and one of the things that made me want to continue coming and to succeed

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.

I thoroughly enjoyed the activity sessions of exercises and the playing of basketball, football skills and tennis

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.

The warmth and welcoming atmosphere of the team. Their enthusiasm to assist if and when needed. Their encouragement and patience. I have met some wonderful people

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.

It’s a very good and motivating program for people who want to prevent their risk of diabetes

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’.

All the tutors were very encouraging, they put you at ease. They wanted you to succeed and took time to answer your concerns. I really miss the group
I have thorough enjoyed the programme and how it has helped me to regulate my diet and the walking has kept me fit. I would certainly recommend that other people join it

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.

Chris Gumble Project Manager, Long term conditions team at South West London Health and Care Partnership:
What a phenomenal journey the Decathlon has been on, from a tiny seed of an idea to the most amazing, enjoyable and well crafted prevention programme out there. I am in awe of what we have achieved as a partnership and will forever be thankful for the efforts Sweatcoin have made to support the creation of the Decathlon. The energy, enthusiasm and unwavering support sweatcoin have shown to the Decathlon is like no other i have experienced in my NHS career, this has lead to a long term partnership and the also to the betterment of our local populations health and wellbeing

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.

DigitalHealth.London support:

Shaun Azam CEFO, Sweatcoin
None of this project would have been possible without the support of DigitalHealth.London – as part of their prestigious Accelerator programme, we had opportunities to network with some of the most senior decision makers across the NHS. DigitalHealth.London also set up ‘Meet the Expert’ events to help navigate complex topics, and participate in workshops. We also had a designated ‘NHS Navigator’ – an expert on the intricacies of the NHS – to assist us in taking our product to market. I can honestly say that this combination of tools was crucial in our successful project launches with the NHS.

DigitalHealth.London is delighted to publish blogs and case studies by the NHS staff and digital health companies we support through our programmes, as well as sector thought-leaders, experts and academics. Any opinions expressed within blogs published on our website are those of the author and not necessarily held by DigitalHealth.London. For more information, or if you would like to write a blog for our website, please email info@digitalHealth.london.

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.