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Understanding Insulin: NEW Free Massive Open Online Course(MOOC)

Updated: Oct 20, 2017

Published on behalf of Dr Nicola Englyst


We are pleased to announce the 2nd release of our FutureLearn MOOC entitled ‘Understanding Insulin’, a course offered by the University of Southampton in collaboration with the University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust adult diabetes team.

It is due to go live on Monday October 2nd. We hope to enable HCPs to gain enhanced knowledge in how insulin works and further promote its safe and effective use in the clinical setting. With this MOOC we aim to support NHS England’s plan to improve diabetes care for patients. Specifically, we feel that improved knowledge on insulin could support:


· Moving to achievement of the NICE recommended diabetes treatment targets - Insulin needs to be used appropriately to get glucose levels to target. Our resource would be relevant to practice nurses, patients and other HCPs using insulin.

· New or expanded diabetes inpatient specialist nurses (DISNs) - new specialist nurses will need comprehensive training on insulin use. Our MOOC would be a useful resource for them.

· Safe use of insulin and reducing error/harms – The knowledge gained by course participants would support this

· In addition, for patients on insulin and those who care for them (e.g family members, parents of child with diabetes) or carehome staff), we feel that our MOOC would help contribute to the overall safe use of insulin 'by all' agenda.


Why we created the course:

Diabetes can be a life-changing and life-limiting condition. Acute abnormal blood glucose level related issues and longer term complications such as diabetic foot disease, which can lead to amputation, can have a significant effect on quality of life as well as mortality. The current spend on diabetes care by the NHS is estimated to be £1.6 million pounds per hour (10% of the annual NHS healthcare budget). 80% of this is spent on managing diabetes complications, the risk of which can be markedly reduced through effective blood glucose control.


One of the biggest challenges in diabetes care is to help patients manage their insulin dosing requirements so that blood glucose concentrations are not too high (which can contribute to an increased risk of long term complications including vascular disease) or too low (causing hypoglycaemia). To overcome this challenge, we need to ensure that healthcare professionals and patients/carers understand what insulin is and how it works, in order to promote optimal insulin prescribing and administration. The requirement for upskilling healthcare professionals caring for people with diabetes has been recognised globally, and the “Understanding insulin” MOOC aims to contribute to this requirement, providing national and international healthcare professionals with the knowledge they need to manage insulin related issues, such as safe prescribing, factors promoting effective clinical use and how different insulins work in different situations.

Who the course is for:

Insulin is a medication that is associated with anxiety amongst healthcare professionals given its regular mention in high risk drug lists, as it can cause hypoglycaemia. This course seeks to present information on insulin in a way that will help reduce concerns around its clinical use and promote healthcare professional confidence. Given that the vast majority of people with diabetes using insulin will not have regular access to a healthcare professional, the course will also be of relevance and interest to them, by providing an invaluable insight into how insulin is helping them to live well with diabetes.


What the participant will gain from the course:

By completing the MOOC, the user will be able to:

· Describe how insulin works to control blood glucose levels

· Explain why a lack or reduced effectiveness insulin in diabetes results in high blood glucose levels and how long term high blood glucose levels can lead to complications in diabetes

· Compare the different types of insulins and their clinical uses

· Describe how to prescribe and administer insulin safely

· Identify the side effects of insulin and other factors that can affects its clinical performance

· Explain how the safe and correct use of insulin can lead to well controlled diabetes and contribute to a good quality of life.


How long it takes to complete the course:

It is a 4 week online course, and the participant can interact with others globally as well as facilitators and mentors.


Proof of course completion:

It is a freely available course but a certificate of completion is available to the participants who completed the course.


To access the course:

The user has to register on the Futurelearn platform, link is: https://www.futurelearn.com/

Please do not hesitate to contact the team (via Mayank.patel@uhs.nhs.uk) for further information about the course.

Yours sincerely,

Understanding Insulin MOOC project team


Dr Mayank Patel, Consultant in Diabetes

Dr Nicola Englyst, Associate Professor and Programme Director of MSc in Diabetes Best Practice

Dr Andy Pulman, eLearning Manager

Nicholas Martin, Media Developer and Senior Experimental Officer

Dr Sunhea Choi, Global eHealth Education Lead

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