• Study to find if mobile app for diabetes tracking useful for patients
  • 84 patients from Pasir Ris Polyclinic involved over two months
  • Improvement of diabetic control observed amongst regular users

A team from Duke-NUS, SingHealth Polyclinics (SHP), and the Health Promotion Board (HPB) set out to investigate how diabetes patients use a caloric-monitoring mobile health app, the Interactive Diet and Activity Tracker (iDAT) developed by HPB to keep track of their diet and activity. 

As a healthy lifestyle is the first line therapy for diabetes, the team led by Dr Tan Ngiap Chuan, Director of Research, SHP and Dr Glenn Goh from Duke-NUS wanted to look at whether patients introduced to the mobile app would make use of it to help them monitor their lifestyle changes.  

 “Past studies showed improvement of diabetic control amongst regular users of related apps. Interestingly, the results of our study showed that 10% of our patients used the app consistently, and another 10% used the app intermittently,” said Dr Tan.  

The study applied a statistical model commonly used in American and European criminological and behavioural research to app usage data from HPB.

“It was previously difficult to distinguish meaningful usage pattern of mobile health apps. Hence, we adopted a statistical model to help us do so,” said Dr Goh.  

The model helped the team to identify patterns of app usage over two months by 84 Pasir Ris Polyclinic patients in the study.

The team hopes that their unique use of latent-class growth modelling will help them pave the way to the development of personalised medicine for patients.

Dr Goh said of the findings, “Since not many patients use health apps on a regular basis, our study helps healthcare professionals to better understand which patient groups to introduce apps to while having to adopt different approaches to engage rare users.”                                             

This research study comes under one of the three Signature Research Programmes in SHP - chronic disease management, education research and innovation in primary care.

SHP Department of Research has been expanding to offer researchers support services ranging from administration to biostatistics and data management.