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Diabetes App Challenge to improve healthcare

A new competition is inviting young people aged 16 to 25 to design and test internet and mobile phone applications – 'apps' – which will help people with diabetes get the most out of their healthcare appointments.

TheDiabetes App Challengeis part of a research project, funded by Diabetes UK, which aims to identify how young people with the condition can receive more effective care.

Young people with diabetes can often struggle to maintain good blood glucose levels, which is essential to managing the condition and staying healthy. Figures show that only 13 per cent of people between the age of 16 and 24 in England and Wales achieve their target blood glucose level.

"Novel research project"

Dr Iain Frame, Director of Research at Diabetes UK, said, "Improving glucose control in teenagers is vital in reducing their risk of diabetes-related complications in later life. At this age, in particular, young people begin to take on more responsibility in managing their own condition.

"This is why at Diabetes UK we are constantly looking for ways in which we can engage with people of this age group to best support them to look after themselves. We are pleased to support this novel research project that will help to give young people with diabetes a say in their own care. We hope that the apps produced through the competition enable them to set the agenda and get the most out of their care appointments."

Effective interaction

Researchers organising the competition believe that modern technology already in the hands of young people could help them to interact more effectively with healthcare professionals in a way that suits them.

Lead investigator, Professor Jonathan Pinkney of Peninsula Medical School, said, "As well as learning to manage their own condition, young people with diabetes must attend regular care appointments, which can be a bit daunting. We hope that this competition will lead the way for apps which can improve young people’s confidence, helping them to set the agenda in consultations and allowing them to focus on the things they want to discuss that are important to them."

Shortlisted apps available online

Shortlisted apps will be made available online to young people with diabetes for testing at their next care appointment. Designers of the shortlisted apps will receive a payment every time someone downloads their app, and the most successful apps will go on to inform future research on diabetes self-management for young people.

The competition closing date is 14 October 2012. For more information on how to apply, seewww.diabetesappchallenge.org.uk. The website includes a forum where young people thinking of entering can have their questions answered.

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