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Immersive diabetes experience launched to tackle poor understanding of disease burden among pharma and healthcare

Immersive diabetes experience launched to tackle poor understanding of disease burden among pharma and healthcare


With cases of type 2 diabetes rising to unprecedented levels, a simulation has been launched to tackle a lack of understanding among the pharmaceutical and wider healthcare industries of the full impact the condition has on a person’s life, which is preventing some patients from getting the support they need.


More than four million people in the UK are living with type 2 diabetes, yet care can be inconsistent. Despite record numbers of children and teenagers in England being diagnosed with the condition - 1,570 under the age of 19 - only three in 10 are getting the care they need to live well with their condition.


British company The Method, which develops immersive learning experiences to help improve patient centricity within pharma and healthcare, says such inconsistencies are largely due to healthcare professionals failing to understand and appreciate the dramatic impact type 2 diabetes can have on every part of a person’s life. The company has worked directly with patients to develop an immersive learning experience specifically about the condition, which they hope will support healthcare teams and pharmaceutical executives to become more 'patient obsessed’ in an effort to promote better care and improve patients’ lives. 


Called ‘A Life in a Day of a patient with type 2 diabetes’, the experience allows participants to walk in the shoes of a patient for one day, providing a unique insight into how type 2 diabetes affects people physically, emotionally, professionally and socially. 


Mark Doyle, co-founder of The Method and creator of the A Life in a Day programme, said: “Diabetes is one of the biggest health challenges facing the world right now, but many still don’t get the care and support they need to manage their condition well. We know from speaking to people with type 2 diabetes that a key barrier is that many healthcare professionals don’t understand how difficult it can be to change your lifestyle so dramatically in the wake of a diagnosis. 


“With more people than ever living with type 2 diabetes, we need our healthcare system to become much better at understanding the impact this condition has on every part of a person’s life. I would go as far to say this should be an obsession. Our type 2 diabetes learning experience provides a unique opportunity to get under the skin of what it really means to live with this condition. It’s helping to put patients at the heart of healthcare, which is the only way to develop and deliver effective services, treatment and support.”


While patient-centred care is widely considered best practice, with proven benefits in improving patient outcomes and reducing healthcare costs, uptake is variable. A recent study found that healthcare students have a generally low attitude towards patient-centred care. This is echoed by previous studies that have highlighted inconsistencies among clinicians in practising patient-centred care.


However, a better understanding of the pressures typically felt by young people with diabetes could help to overcome barriers to good care, particularly in England where children and young people tend to miss more diabetes healthcare appointments than other age groups. 


For Mark Duman, the reality of his type 2 diagnosis didn’t sink in for several years largely due, he says, to the technical and ‘cold’ language used by the healthcare system. The 54-year-old former pharmacist from Salford was diagnosed with the condition by chance 12 years ago after taking an oral glucose tolerance test as part of an application for critical illness insurance cover.


Mark explained: “Eight years after my diagnosis I was sitting with my daughter eating some ice cream and I looked at her and suddenly thought, ‘If I continue this lifestyle I may not be here in 10 years’ time to hopefully see you getting married. If I’m still here I may have problems with my eyes or nerves. I may not have my feet’. Suddenly those complications felt more real and that’s when I knew I had to take my type 2 diabetes seriously.


“Talking to me about my BMI and my HbA1c and LDL levels never really resonated with me. However, if I was told that, as a 54-year-old, my heart age is 68 or my kidney age is 72, that would really make me think. I would certainly have responded much better and taken things more seriously at an earlier stage if I had been spoken to in the language of patients and people, not the language of medicine.”


The Method’s immersive type 2 diabetes experience is the latest healthcare simulation to be launched by the company. All of its ‘A Life in a Day’ experiences - which also cover conditions such as heart failure, COPD, lung cancer and chronic kidney disease - are primarily delivered via a smartphone app that sets participants challenges throughout the day. This is complemented by a physical kit of items, which is delivered to each participant to help complete challenges and simulate symptoms during the day, and live role-play phone calls.


Doyle added: “By creating experiences that accurately explore the physical, emotional and social aspects of living with a chronic condition, we are already seeing significant and measurable change within pharma and healthcare. This includes increased confidence in speaking to patients, more personalised support for patients and a greater consideration of patients’ needs when designing clinical trials.”


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Last Updated: 15-Jun-2022