Leeds Cares funded DigiBete wins award & place on accelerator programme

An online Diabetes platform initially funded by Leeds Cares has been given an award at the Leeds Teaching Hospitals ‘Time to Shine’ event. DigiBete was created to raise awareness of Type 1 diabetes and build educational resources for patients and their families. It currently has over 17,000 users and can be translated into 99 different languages. It won the ‘Best Use of Technology and Social Media’ award at the ceremony in July.

DigiBete was created in 2016 by parents Maddie and Rob Julian after their son was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. Launched as a free website earlier this year, the platform features video sharing tools and other educational resources to encourage self-management. It has been developed in full collaboration with the Leeds Paediatric Diabetes Team and with support from NHS Digital. The couple hopes to support other parents and families and ensure good diabetes care.

Maddie says “Diabetes is a very complex condition to manage, especially in children, because everything can affect blood glucose levels including the weather, growth hormones, exercise and growth spurts. DigiBete provides access to clinically approved education and training for families and their communities. This enables young people to lead potentially happier and safer lives. We also hope to reduce the amount of contact these families will need with their NHS teams.  Digibete is now also being used extensively by Health Care Professionals who are training others and running group education sessions”.

Type 1 diabetes currently affects an estimated 400,000 people in the UK. Of those children and young people with diabetes, 96% are diagnosed with type 1 rather than type 2. Maddie and Rob became frustrated by the lack of digital resources after their son’s diagnosis, as much of the educational literature on diabetes was geared towards adults and focussed on management of diet-led Type 2 diabetes. Leeds Cares gave the couple initial funding of £20,000 to develop the web-build and establish initial content, in partnership with Leeds Teaching Hospitals. The open-source platform now contains content on management, ‘how to’ guides and even recipes and food advice from leading dieticians Frances Hanson and Francesca Annan. The platform is completely age appropriate and even has an educational section for children learning about their own diabetes with over 70 age-specific, educational films based on ‘The Goals of Diabetes’ – a nationally recognised structured framework for children from 6 to 18+ years.

DigiBete has also recently been accepted onto the Leeds-based ‘Elmwood accelerator programme’ for start-up technology organisations. Hosted by design consultancy, Elmwood, the programme connects start-ups with access to mentoring, growth networks and potential funding. Maddie and Rob are now looking forward to extending and improving the platform and may even look to move into app development.

Julie Moody, Director of Income Generation and Fundraising at Leeds Cares said “We’re delighted with the success Maddie & Rob are having with DigiBete. It’s an amazing tool that is supporting so many families already – we can’t wait to see what they achieve next.”