American Diabetes Association launches powerful new health risk profiling tool: Diabetes PHD

Alexandria 31 May 2005The American Diabetes Association haslaunched a new interactive Web-based tool that makes it easier for people with diabetes - and anyone at risk for developing diabetes, heart disease, or stroke - to better manage their health. The tool, Diabetes Personal Health Decisions (PHD), is the most accurate health risk profiling programme ever developed and is available free to the public.


Diabetes PHD is an interactive, Web-based technology that enables users to enter personal health parameters such as age, sex, height, weight, health history, and medications; in return, users receive an extremely accurate health risk profile. Most important, the risk profile provides an accurate picture of how the individual can change their risk by changing modifiable health parameters such as weight, blood pressure, or cholesterol. The tool can be used to help both patients and health professionals make informed choices about how best to reduce a patient's risk for diabetes and/or its complications.

"This unique and extremely powerful tool can be used by patients to determine how they can reduce their risk of serious complications by achieving their goals of therapy", stated Catherine J. Tibbetts, RN, MPH, CDE, President, Health Care and Education, American Diabetes Association. "The rationale is that, after patients see what the future likely holds for them, they can use the tool to learn what steps they can take to live healthier, longer lives."

Clinicians can also leverage the tool to better understand which potential treatments offer the most benefit. Most patients with chronic illnesses have several different metabolic problems at the same time, and each problem can require a variety of different treatment strategies. Diabetes PHD will be extremely useful in helping prioritize the optimal selection and sequencing of these treatments.

Diabetes PHD allows users to create an individual profile containing a detailed range of basic health-related information. After the personal health record is created, the user submits the data to be run by Diabetes PHD. The programme then processes each individual's information to provide a highly accurate and detailed risk profile. During the computation time, which averages 5-6 minutes, users are offered the option of staying on-line to receive their results - during which time they are offered tips and information about diabetes and healthy living - or they can choose to receive an e-mail notification when their results are ready.

But the Diabetes PHD experience does not end there. After receiving the targeted risk profile, the user can then modify various health variables such as weight, blood pressure, and lipid levels to see the effect that these changes have on their long term risk for diabetes and its complications.

The software underpinning for Diabetes PHD is Archimedes, which was developed by Kaiser Permanente with support from a grant to the American Diabetes Association from Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. Archimedes is an extremely comprehensive model that simulates the biological processes underlying the development of diabetes. Archimedes takes into account virtually every variable that comes into play in a person's health, from smoking to weight to blood pressure to medications, and it takes into account the inter-relationship of each of those variables (e.g., losing weight reduces the risk of heart attack directly and it also tends to lower blood pressure, which reduces the risk for other health factors such as kidney disease and stroke). No other simulation model is as comprehensive, nor has any other model used in medicine been validated as extensively as Archimedes.

The Grid distributing platform underlying Diabetes PHD has been licensed from United Devices. The user interface has been developed by IMC2.

"Caring for patients with a chronic disease is very complex, and the human mind is usually unable to sort out and interpret all the existing medical information as it may apply to a specific patient", stated David Eddy, MD, PhD, the co-inventor of Archimedes. "Archimedes integrates most, if not all, known factors relevant to clinicians in their decision-making and, thus, can address practical issues with a great deal of confidence", added Dr. Eddy.

More than 18 million Americans have diabetes, a disease characterized by high blood glucose levels that result from defects in the body's ability to produce and/or use insulin. Diabetes can lead to severely debilitating or fatal complications, such as heart disease, blindness, kidney disease, and amputations. It is the fifth leading cause of death by disease in the United States.

Diabetes PHD is made possible by the Association's "Doing Better: Tools for Diabetes Care" initiative, which is funded by unrestricted educational grants from AstraZeneca LP, Lifescan Inc., Novo Nordisk Inc., and sanofi-aventis. The goal of the Doing Better Programme is to provide clinicians and patients with tested, practical and inexpensive ways to improve diabetes self-management and medical care, and thereby reduce the burden of this serious disease. Diabetes PHD is one of the several tools the Association will be providing under the Doing Better Programme.

The American Diabetes Association is the nation's premier voluntary health organisation supporting diabetes research, information and advocacy. The Association's mission is to prevent and cure diabetes and to improve the lives of all people affected by diabetes. Founded in 1940, the Association provides services to hundreds of communities across the country. Diabetes PHD is availale free to the public through the American Diabetes Association Web site.

Leslie Versweyveld

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