Smartphone-based remote monitoring system for pregnancy-related diabetes wins prize

20 November 2014

A system for remote monitoring of mothers with pregnancy-related diabetes using a smartphone and wireless-enabled blood glucose meter has won the Best Digital Initiative trophy in the Quality in Care Diabetes Awards.

The system, which was developed by Institute of Biomedical Engineering at Oxford University, consists of a smartphone app for the patient linked to a wireless-enabled blood glucose meter and a central computer system for the healthcare team for data and patient management.

The conventional treatment for diabetes in pregnancy — called gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) — is for the patient to manage and record her blood glucose levels up to six times a day and have her medication dose adjusted at fortnightly check-ups in hospital.

With the new technology, the patient tags the blood glucose readings sent to the phone by the blood glucose meter and enters her insulin dose, if appropriate. The data is sent to the care team's computer system for monitoring and the patient receives feedback on her phone in the form of summaries of blood glucose data, as well as prompts and reminders, as appropriate.

The care team can view the blood glucose results online in real time and can institute an intervention in between clinic visits, such as increasing the insulin dose. Algorithms on the server track the trends in the blood glucose readings and the diabetes midwives are automatically notified if their patients have a number of readings outside the target zone.

The system allows remote monitoring of the patients and delivery of care, faster communication between members of the care team and improved workflows, while reducing the number of tiring, time-consuming hospital appointments.

Professor Lionel Tarassenko, Head of the Department of Engineering at Oxford University and lead researcher, said, “Our digital health work  has now been shown to be clinically useful. This outcome has only been possible because of the partnership between engineers and clinicians that exists in Oxford”.

Dr Lucy Mackillop, clinical researcher on the project and Consultant Obstetric Physician based at the John Radcliffe Women’s Centre, said, “This is a fantastic accolade and an excellent example of innovative and successful collaboration between the university and hospital. It is also a fabulous boost for our wonderful team and all their hard work.”

The system was trialled at Oxford University Hospitals NHS Trust with 50 patients and is now being introduced at other hospitals with the help of the Oxford Academic Health Science Network. A full randomised trial is also under way with two hundred women and results are expected to be published next year.

Further information

The Institute of Biomedical Engineering project summary:


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