Delivered Reduction in Blood Glucose Levels Comparable to Starting a New Medication
BURLINGTON, MA (August 8, 2017) – A new clinical research study, released today, has found that a deployment of Qstream’s mobile solution, designed to teach patients about diabetes self-management, delivered reductions in blood glucose comparable to starting a new diabetes medication. The patients who were randomly assigned to use Qstream had significantly greater reductions in hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c), a common measure of long-term blood glucose control, than their counterparts. The researchers, from Harvard Medical School and the Veterans Affairs Boston Healthcare System, saw the greatest reduction in HbA1c among patients with severe diabetes. The team’s findings are published online today in Diabetes Care.
In the randomized trial of 456 Veteran Affairs patients with poorly controlled diabetes, approximately half were assigned diabetes self-management education delivered in the form of a Qstream challenge, while approximately half were assigned to an active control game. Patients using Qstream were presented with multiple-choice questions, delivered to their mobile phone or via email, related to glucose management, exercise, long-term diabetes complications, medication adherence and nutrition. The Qstream challenge also included detailed explanations for the answers, a “take-home message” and references. Participants were sent two questions every Tuesday and Thursday by email or mobile app. After answering a question, Qstream immediately presented the participant with the correct answer and an explanation. The same question would be delivered again around four weeks later to reinforce the concept.
The Qstream challenge took place over a six-month period and its push notifications and built-in game mechanics generated strong engagement. Participants earned “points” for correctly answered questions and were assigned to teams based on their geographic region. Individual and team scores were posted on leader boards to foster a sense of competition and community.
“Our results suggest that the game, when implemented across healthcare systems in the US and overseas, has the potential to improve the health of many patients with diabetes,” said corresponding author B. Price Kerfoot, MD EdM, an Associate Professor of Surgery at Harvard Medical School who is on faculty at the VA Boston Healthcare System. “To play, patients only need a desire to improve their health, a competitive spirit, and an email account or mobile device.”
HbA1c levels were tested at enrollment, six months and 12 months after the launch of the Qstream challenge. Patients who had the highest HbA1c levels before the Qstream began (9% or more – an indication of high blood glucose and greater risk of diabetes complications) saw the most dramatic drops HbA1c over the 12-month period.
“These research results are a compelling testament to Qstream’s ability to affect positive, longstanding behavior change,” said Duncan Lennox, co-founder and CEO of Qstream. “While there are many different applications for Qstream such as boosting sales reps’ performance and improving clinicians’ practice patterns, the ability to directly improve patients’ health is certainly one of the most gratifying.”
Funding for this study was provided by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (1R01HS019708-01A).