Our mission is to use digital media to shape the future of healthcare. Whether that’s through our education programs or interactions on the forum, we want to improve health outcomes in every aspect of diabetes care. People with diabetes are the experts in their own condition, and we seek to bring power back to where it belongs: with the community that lives with diabetes every day.
The Diabetes Forum started as the first place that the diabetes community could talk openly to one another about their condition – especially regarding diet. Since starting out in 2003, we’ve grown into Europe’s largest diabetes community, with:
- More than 500,000 members from 300 countries
- 2.2m unique visitors per month
- More than 350,000 social media users across Facebook, Twitter and Instagram
Our research shows that our ideas are resonating with the people who matter most. In 2013, we learned that:
- 73% of members improve their understanding of diabetes thanks to do the diabetes forum
- 44% of members improve their blood glucose control
- 35% reduced their HbA1c levels thanks to the forum
- 55% of members improved their diet choices after joining the forum
It’s simple – connecting and sharing with each other is affecting health outcomes, positively. Not only is it affecting real-world health, but it is also changing diabetes-research and understanding, too.
Education has always been at the heart of what we do, and for good reason. There are thousands of people disillusioned and frustrated by the lack of clear, accessible diabetes information. With the continuing support of the diabetes community and medical experts, we are committed to making that a thing of the past.
Diabetes.co.uk is built on community. It’s the community that shares its expertise on the forum, and it’s the community that provides feedback so that we can make our education programs the best they can be. It’s the community that makes it possible for us to keep growing. We’re built on togetherness and collaboration, and we’re grateful for that. We wouldn’t do anything to jeopardise it.
We pride ourselves on being open about our business practices. Because we’re not a charity, it’s important to our community that we’re open about how we make money. We understand and respect that.
Some of our revenue comes from advertising, but we know that ads can get annoying. That’s why we don’t show ads when you’re logged into the forum, the Hypo Training Program, or Diabetes PA, all of which are completely free. We also respect your right to use ad-blocking software.
Occasionally, we run promotions for clinical trials. This does not mean we sell your personal information to pharmaceutical companies. It means that we’ll let you know when a trial’s going on, and you can sign up if it sounds of interest to you.
The only data sharing we do is in bulk, anonymous form. It’s not personal information, it’s anonymous medical data that nobody can trace back to you. This kind of data sharing is a good thing. It makes people healthier.
For example, the NHS can use anonymous data to monitor the performance of a particular hospital, or keep an eye on the spread of certain risk factors, or judge the effectiveness of treatments. It’s a nationwide initiative to make sure we all get better, and we’re proud to be a part of it.
Better together: digital media and the future of healthcare
Digital spaces can provide support that traditional healthcare can’t. On the forum, users have access not just to a first or second opinion, but to thousands. Advice is tailored to the individual. There is time for dialogue and nuanced explanation – something which GPs may not have time to provide.
Digital healthcare also has the potential to revolutionise diabetes education, giving millions of people unprecedented access to key information. We will continue to be at the forefront of this movement.
Our first education project, the Hypo Training Program, is the world’s first structured education program for people struggling with hypoglycemia. The statistics suggest that the Hypo Training Program has had a very real, positive effect. 87% agree that they have improved their ability to treat a hypo, and their knowledge of hypoglycemia and driving. 88% know how to avoid hypos.
On World Diabetes Day 2015, we released the Low-Carb Program, a structured, step-by-step guide to following a nutrition-first approach to type 2 diabetes. The results are astounding. Digital education is not just improving health, it’s changing lives.
We’re proud to have been awarded the inaugural Positive Social Impact Award at the National Business Awards 2016, recognised for “using innovative, engaging but simple behaviour change and digital strategies and the use of data and mobile”, which is resulting in “saving NHS budgets, and saving lives.”
Our work is saving the NHS money. By using digital spaces, people are lowering their HbA1c levels, and thereby reducing their risk of complications – by far the biggest cost of diabetes. People are improving their health. We’re not working against the advice of doctors – we’re enhancing it.
Finding the right diet: diabetes and low-carb
On the forum, we’ve seen a staggering amount of anecdotal evidence in favour of the low-carb diet. Dr. David Unwin, inspired by the stories he read there, has since conducted several studies and found that the low-carb diet reduces HbA1c levels and aids weight loss in people with type 2 diabetes.
We don’t push the low-carb diet onto anyone – for some people, it won’t work. We encourage people to make their own decisions, and we offer our support regardless of what diet they follow. We urge people with diabetes to check with their doctor before making any major dietary changes.
That said, we’re committed to providing comprehensive resources to anybody interested in following the low-carb diet. We believe dietary guidelines need to change, to provide more flexibility and encourage improved diabetes control, and it’s our mission to demonstrate the benefits.
In complete control: self-monitoring of blood glucose for people with type 2 diabetes
It’s our belief that people with type 2 diabetes benefit from structured self-monitoring of blood glucose, but people with type 2 diabetes who aren’t dependent on insulin often can’t get test strips on prescription.
In response, we developed the Type 2 Testing Program, which provides test strips, a free blood glucose monitor and comprehensive structured support, for a quarterly or annual fee. Again, we don’t insist on it – we appreciate that diabetes can be controlled without testing – but we think people should have the option.
Prevention better than a cure: prediabetes
Type 2 diabetes is in many cases a preventable condition, and we see the need for “at-risk” individuals to be identified. However, we think that prediabetes is a flawed label, and people with prediabetes are overmedicated. Prediabetes can be understood as an opportunity – an opportunity to make changes in order to prevent type 2 diabetes. Not everybody has that chance and there are plenty of people around for support.
We’re committed to providing educational resources for people with prediabetes so that they can feel empowered to take control of their health.
Burnout and beyond: diabetes and the mind
Research suggests that people with diabetes are twice as likely to go through depression, and diabetes burnout is rife. Since our inception, we’ve pioneered research into the effects of mindfulness-based meditation on diabetes burnout, and our findings are encouraging. Not only does mindfulness address the emotional impact of burnout, but it also has a positive effect on blood glucose levels. We intend to continue our research into diabetes and meditation, and we hope the medical community does the same.
- Contact Diabetes.co.uk: Click here to contact Diabetes.co.uk