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Diabetes is a chronic disease that, if not managed correctly, causes those living with it to become progressively ill and debilitated. According to the World Health Organization (WHO) Europe, the prevalence of diabetes is increasing among all ages in Europe. WHO projects diabetes deaths will double between 2005 and 2030.
Diabetes is usually incurable, but it can indeed be managed. There are ways to keep it under control. The challenge is that people living with the disease, as well as their doctors, don’t always have the information or support they need. On top of the personal and family suffering, the 58 million people in Europe who have the disease strain the region’s economy and health system.
The International Diabetes Federation European Region (IDF Europe) performed a diabetes research project to take a closer look at why many people don’t get the care they need.
AI for diabetes research
Because of the gap between research and practice, IDF Europe researchers wanted to explore the reasons why standards of care vary so widely, look for ways to improve diabetes education and help standardize practices.
IDF Europe was open to looking at technology to improve traditional research methods, so when the opportunity to work with IBM through an Impact Grant arose, the organization was eager to collaborate.
IBM Impact Grants provide consulting expertise and technologies such as cognitive, mobile and social to support educational and nonprofit organizations.
IDF Europe put IBM analytics to work to conduct its diabetes research.
A multi-phased approach
There were three phases to the research performed by IDF Europe, in conjunction with IBM data scientists.
First, the researchers used IBM Watson Explorer, the cognitive exploration and content analysis platform from IBM, to assist in sorting through diabetes articles that had been published since 2000. Watson Explorer helped find the most relevant information for experts to further analyze, cutting the review time in half.
Phase two was a survey of IDF Europe’s member organizations, representing both people with diabetes and healthcare professionals, that looked at diabetes care and education in different countries and sub-regions. IBM data scientists assisted the research team to review these results alongside data from other sources and visualize the results.
In the third phase of the project, researchers analyzed social data with IBM Watson Analytics for Social Media to understand people’s day-to-day experience with diabetes since people communicate on social media more openly than if they were speaking to a medical professional or completing a survey.
The results of the research were published in a report called “Integrating diabetes evidence into practice: Challenges and opportunities to bridge the gaps.”
Improved patient care
With IBM Watson Explorer and Watson Analytics, IDF Europe could gather further insights than it would have with traditional research methods and in a much shorter amount of time.
This report defines the current landscape in relation to diabetes in Europe and identifies barriers and solutions for implementing diabetes evidence into practice. It describes the current evidence, and presents the perspectives of IDF Europe member organizations and the experience of people with diabetes.
The groundbreaking project has opened new perspectives on diabetes care, offering healthcare organizations in Europe useful information for helping people with diabetes enjoy a better quality of life.
Read the case study to learn more.