If you’re diabetic, you know a lot goes in to managing your disease. Not only is it important to monitor your blood sugar and keep track of patterns over time, maintaining a proper diet, getting plenty of exercise and taking your medication are all vital to staying healthy and avoiding complications.
However, many of the diabetes patients we’ve talked with over the years have told us it can be challenging to keep up with everything they need to do. It’s one thing to test your blood sugar several times a day; it’s something else entirely to remember to write down the readings so your health care provider can review them at your next appointment and adjust your medication dosages. That’s not even taking into account the challenges of evaluating the foods you eat for the right mix of carbohydrates and proteins, or monitoring your insulin dosages.
That’s where apps come in. These days, almost everyone has a smartphone or other mobile devices that can run apps. There are literally dozens of applications that can help diabetes patients manage their disease. From helping you keep track of your daily blood sugar readings to reminding you when it’s time to buy Januvia, the right application can make a major difference in how you control your diabetes and avoid complications.
A Growing Trend
A recent report revealed that while only a small percentage of diabetes patients currently use apps to manage their condition, the numbers are growing. Within four years, the number of patients using apps will grow to eight million. That still represents only a small portion of the overall number of diabetes patients with smartphones in the U.S., but it’s still a significant enough number of people to make application developers take notice.
That’s in large part because studies have shown patients who use applications actually have better outcomes than those who do not. In 2011, a landmark study reported in Health Data Management found those patients who used mobile and Internet applications were better able to lower their glucose levels and reduce their A1C — the average blood glucose level over a two to three month period — than those patients who did not use the technology. Maintaining A1C has been proven to reduce the risk of diabetes complications.
However, many patients resist using applications for several reasons. The biggest complaint is the majority of the more than 1,000 applications on the market require manual data entry. Most applications aren’t compatible with blood sugar meters, insulin pumps or other devices, requiring patients enter their readings, something many people don’t have the time or willingness to do. Coupled with the fact that many modern devices already keep track of readings and monitor patterns, and in some cases automatically transmit data to health care providers, some users find an application to be redundant.
Still, applications that monitor blood sugar as well as nutrition, exercise and weight have proven useful to some patients. For example, some patients like the convenience of managing everything in one place and the ability to email or print a report for their doctor before an appointment, or the regular reminders when they need to buy Sitagliptin.
Choosing the Right Application
It’s important to note a mobile application is never a substitute for a doctor’s care, no matter how advanced it is. An application is simply a tool, to help you better manage your condition.
That being said, we’ve found some free applications that are rated highly and may help you stay more in control of your diabetes. Among them:
Glooko Logbook. This iPhone-only app, compatible with 11 popular blood sugar meters, allows you to keep track of your readings without writing them down. Connect your meter to your phone via a designated cable — and all of your readings will report to your phone.
Glucose Buddy. The free app for Android and iPhone performs multiple tasks. It reminds you to test your blood sugar at appropriate times, allows you to enter your readings (as well as your carb intake, medication dosages, exercise and more) and helps you gauge the effect certain foods and activities will have on your glucose readings.
Dbees.comDiabetes Manager. This free Android app helps you tailor your tests and activities to your unique diagnosis. Simply enter your diagnosis information, treatment plan and daily readings, and the app will make recommendations for testing, activities and foods to eat.
Fooducate. For the average diabetes patient, the grocery store is a minefield of potential bad choices. Fooducate takes some of the mystery out of what to eat: Just scan the product barcode or search for it in the database of more than 200,000 foods. Then, the app will give the food a grade based on its healthfulness, alert you to hidden ingredients and make suggestions of healthier alternatives.
Diabetes is a lifelong condition requiring vigilance and attention to detail, and the right app can help ease some of that burden. Consider adding one to your smartphone to make managing your condition less cumbersome.