A seed grant from the University of Wisconsin-Madison Global Health Institute will be used to develop a mobile app that will help patients with diabetes in rural Guatemala.

Dr. James Svenson, associate professor in the Department of Emergency Medicine, and Kevin Wyne, faculty associate in the Department of Family Medicine and Community Health, are the principal investigators for the “Rural Guatemala Diabetes Initiative,” which received a $50,000 award from the Global Health Institute.

San Lucas Tolimán is a town of 17,000 in southern Guatemala, and the population is experiencing rapid growth in rates of chronic non-communicable diseases such as diabetes.

There are many barriers to effective treatment of diabetes, including access to care and medications. Empowering health promoters to monitor and provide treatment in their communities is an effective way to improve glucose control and long-term outcomes for patients with diabetes in this region.

The investigators will collaborate with a group from Stanford University to develop a computer-based app that can be used by village health promoters to monitor their diabetic patients.

“The idea is to enable minimally trained providers to be able to provide care,” Svenson says. “A mobile app is the way to go.”

Rural patients, who need to wait for a ride to the clinic in San Lucas, often just don’t go in for care. Since good cell phone coverage is available even in rural Guatemala, health care workers will be able to use an app on their mobile phones to record blood sugar levels, provide guidance and adjust medicines.

This is the second year a seed grant has been used to develop a mobile app. Working with collaborators in South Africa, Dr. Janis Tupesis, graduate medical education liaison in the Global Health Institute, is near to launching an app to improve emergency care.

Published: May 2016