Using smartphones to monitor physical activity has been run as a pilot project in Ireland and has been demonstrated to have a positive effect on the number of steps patients take in a day compared to those in a control group. Ireland has been piloting a commercially available app: ‘ACCUPEDO PRO’. The app monitors exercise by counting steps taken on a daily basis.
Following positive feedback from the pilot, the project team is now recruiting patients for the implementation phase of the ITTS demonstrator project in collaboration with general practices across the Western Research and Education Network (WestREN) of Ireland. WestREN is a partnership between more than 170 GPs and general practices and the Discipline of General Practice at NUI Galway. The network covers a population of over 500,000 from an area extending geographically from counties Cork to Donegal. The potential of this physical activity project covers a broad health connected area – patients suffering from obesity, diabetes and COPD, to name a few, would all benefit from such an intervention. For the purpose of this project, however, recruitment will focus on patients with type 2 diabetes.
Since the project's inception in early 2013, 4 medical practices have come on board with a case for ongoing expansion. The project has recruited 140 patients to date. The project team are currently working on a use case scenario and liasing with an implementation scientist to develop a sustainability plan into the future.
'Accupedo Pro' app allows iPhone users to view
At the start of May 2013, staff at a Highland medical practice took innovative steps when they launched this new service aimed at increasing the physical activity levels of referred patients.
GPs at the Culloden Medical Practice identifed a number of patients who would benefit from using a smartphone to monitor their physical activity and recommended an 8-week walking programme, to be tailored to each individual's needs. Patients were asked to download the smartphone app which uses intelligent 3D motion recognition technology to track daily walking. Upon commencement, weekly step counts were to be sent to the practice nurses who would monitor the data and set new targets, gradually increasing patients' activity levels.
Unfortunately, patient uptake was not sufficient and the service has now been withdrawn. It is hoped that evalutation of the project will reveal the reasons for the lack of participation and inform future projects.
Working closely with the rehabilitation centre for Tromsø municipality, recruitment has now started with the aim to enrol 200 participants, 20 of whom will be identified to take part in the evaluation of the project. There is a 'preventative' focus on recruitment, targetting patients with pre-diabetes/chronic heart disease and patients with obesity due to a range of conditions. To assist with the recruitment drive, ITTS Norway have joined forces with the Healthy Living Centre in Tromsø, and a local weight loss club. These institutions offer people the chance to take part in the ITTS project, providing literature, consent forms and questionnaires to help the patient decide whether to sign up. Future recruitment drives may also target unemployed groups.