March Innovation – Bant, the App That Could Save Billions
Again our monthly innovation will focus on a smartphone application. Not too surprising, as it seems a new health app is developed daily. We now have apps that can help you review your blood pressure, your glucose level, heart rate and even your brainwaves.
Increasingly, the health industry is turning to smartphones to monitor and help patients with chronic illness, essentially turning our favorite Angry Birds device into lifesaving equipment.
Approximately 80% of Canada’s health-care dollars go to the treatment of chronic illnesses. The big five – diabetes, heart disease, respiratory ailments, cancer and mental illness are expected to cost worldwide health-care $47 trillion over the next 20 years, according to the World Economic Forum.
Fortunately, there are those who are on a mission to tackle the problem of crippling health-care costs, individuals such as Dr. Joseph Cafazzo, the senior director at the Centre for Global eHealth Innovation in Toronto.
Cafazzo’s team of 70 experiences doctors, nurses, software engineers and designers are undertaking an immense task – to tackle what ails us, before the conditions become acute and require medical intervention. By keep patients on track through home care and remote monitoring, they believe patients will be less likely to end up in the hospital or on expensive drugs, which will reduce the economic impact on our health-care system.
Enter Bant (named after Frederick Banting, co-discoverer of insulin), an iPhone app developed by Cafazzo and his team.
Bant allows you to simplify your diabetes management, “Diabetes management is a team effort and Bant empowers your team. It makes blood glucose data capture easy and sharing your experience even easier,” says Bant’s website.
Traditionally, diabetic teenagers have presented a challenge to health professionals, since they typically are reluctant actively monitor their blood glucose levels, prick their fingers and take readings.
Bant aims to increase usage through gamification (the use of game design techniques into non game contexts) elements that reward teens with iTunes store credits every time they use their glucometer.
About a year ago, University Health Network ran a three-month, Health Canada-approved clinical trial of Bant with 20 diabetics aged 12 to 16. Initial signs were encouraging, participants monitored their blood 49.6% more frequently—from 2.38 to 3.56 times a day, on average (the target is a minimum of four times).
Bant is a constant reminder to young diabetics that they can keep their condition from worsening if they modify their behaviour. Dr. Cafazzo says his team came up with the idea for the app after observing teen patients in the hospital. “No matter how sick these kids were, they still had their phones with them.”
Get Bant from the app store.