University Teams Tap Mobile Phones and Social Networks to Fight Non-communicable Diseases

University of California, Berkeley and ESADE Business School-Universidad Ramon Llull Target Diabetes to win IBM and Novartis NCD Challenge

ARMONK, N.Y., Feb. 9, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- New solutions developed by university teams could soon be harnessed to help manage the growing global problem of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) such as asthma, diabetes, stroke and cancer.

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A social-media enabled support system for pregnant women with gestational diabetes and advanced smart-phone service could have tremendous impact as cost-effective tools to help manage diabetes and other diseases. These winning innovations and others were part of the NCD Challenge, sponsored by IBM (NYSE: IBM) and Novartis (NYSE: NVS). The global competition was designed to bring together industry and academia to create innovative, easy-to-use solutions that fight the human and social burden of NCDs.

According to the World Health Organization, nearly two-thirds of all deaths occur due to non-communicable diseases which contribute to more than 60 percent of deaths worldwide. Over the coming decade, some 388 million people worldwide will die of one or more chronic illnesses and the cumulative losses in global economic output due to NCDs will total $47 trillion by 2030. Modest investments to prevent and treat NCDs could save tens of millions of lives and bring major economic returns.

Winners of the competition are Haas School of Business, University of California, Berkeley, and ESADE Business School-Universidad Ramon Llull in Barcelona, Spain. These winning solutions  for two categories, developing nations and developed nations, help address the problem.

"The NCD Challenge illustrates the type of ingenuity, motivation and accessibility that will help control the growing epidemic of NCDs in many parts of the world," said Katherine Holland, general manager, global life sciences, IBM. "Innovation such as this is key to a global strategy to improve care and build a more sustainable healthcare system."

Developing World Solution:

2Vidas - Haas School of Business, University of California, Berkeley

2Vidas is a pharmacy-based membership program for low- to middle-income pregnant women to address the growing problem of diabetes in Mexico. The project's aim is to make a lasting health impact on two lives during a finite period in which women have increased motivation to take better care of themselves for the health of their babies.

The program works by providing pregnant women access to monitoring tools at local pharmacies, support through peer-led sessions, and encouragement via positive SMS messaging that rewards self-management and offers health tips. The potential economic impact is the ability to save women 58-98% of out-of-pocket monitoring costs, depending on frequency of use, and the health system an average of $110 per enrolled woman per year through improved diabetes control - lowering the risk profile of the mother's pregnancy and baby's propensity for NCDs. 2Vidas membership program will deliver estimated $10.4 million in systemic cost savings and $475,000 in added value creation over five years. Team members included: Emily Ewell (team lead), Jenny Chang, Tara English, Rachel Sherman

Developed World Solution:

Dr. Diabetes - ESADE Business School-Universidad Ramon Llull

Dr. Diabetes utilizes a handheld device with an application and two cloud servers. It is a total solution designed to provide diabetes awareness, monitoring and management to patients with chronic illness, initially for China. It also provides early awareness to the public and streamlines diabetes management for patients. The solution provides medical data via cloud computing to physicians for accurate diagnosis, and to pharmaceutical companies and hospitals for efficient research and development. The solution is designed to be scalable to support other NCDs.

It is designed to lower the risk of complications, decrease treatment costs to patients by up to 73 percent, and decrease their hospital visits by 65 percent.

Team members included:
Ching-Chia Hsu (team lead), Meng-Chi Chen, Alexander Anthonysamy, Kohei Sato, Feras Nagadi.

The competition runners up are:

  • Smart Strip - Said Business School, University of Oxford. A non-invasive, mobile blood glucometer band that measures blood glucose transdermally
  • Oxford Asthma - Said Business School, University of Oxford. Low-cost solution for large scale monitoring and diagnosis of asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease

Other finalists in the competition include:

  • DiaMapp – Jordan University. Smart phone technology for managing diabetes type 1 in children, empowering patients and their families to care for themselves
  • Move4Health - Karolinska Institutet. Prescription for physical activity by physicians, targeted for Vietnam, supported by mobile technology to measure activity and provide healthcare follow up
  • My Health Portal - ESADE Business School-Universidad Ramon Llul. Secure online portal based on cloud computing technology that bridges the communication gap between patient and doctor
  • TeleHealth - University of Melbourne. An innovative integrated telehealth solution that can globally individualize the care and management of people with diabetes

Winning teams will be recognized during the NCD Awards Ceremony held February 9-10 at IBM headquarters in Armonk, New York and Novartis headquarters in East Hanover, New Jersey. A keynote speech will be given by Dr. Jacob Kumaresan, World Health Organization Center for Health Development. During the competition, the teams were supported by mentors and subject matter coaching to provide industry expertise to complement each team's knowledge and research. The winning teams will be provided guidance from the venture capital community for commercializing their solutions.

People can join the conversation on the topic of fighting non-communicable diseases at:  People for a Smarter Planet on Facebook at, and on Twitter at #NCD

About Novartis

Novartis provides innovative healthcare solutions that address the evolving needs of patients and societies. Headquartered in Basel, Switzerland, Novartis offers a diversified portfolio to best meet these needs: innovative medicines, eye care, cost-saving generic pharmaceuticals, preventive vaccines and diagnostic tools, over-the-counter and animal health products. Novartis is the only global company with leading positions in these areas. In 2011, the Group's continuing operations achieved net sales of USD 58.6 billion, while approximately USD 9.6 billion (USD 9.2 billion excluding impairment and amortization charges) was invested in R&D throughout the Group. Novartis Group companies employ approximately 124,000 full-time-equivalent associates and operate in more than 140 countries around the world. For more information, please visit

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