How Apps Help Diabetics and How We Can Make Them Even Better
06.05.2018 | 8 min read
There is a huge demand for apps that help diabetics. According to Diabetes Daily, over 400 million adults suffer from this disease, including 29 million in the United States. Let’s flick through the best software available for them right now, and look for the gaps that can be filled by new useful apps.
Digital healthcare offers deeply personalized medical service. We can receive help and tools appropriate to our circumstances – diseases we carry, problems we have to live with and so on. It can be a pretty huge boon, especially to people suffering from life-altering conditions – like diabetes.
Diabetes can affect your daily schedule and make normal, daily occurrences, like a cut on the finger or (especially) a scratched foot, a cause for real concern. In extreme cases, the condition can lead to kidney problems, blindness or even fatal heart failure. Other than these symptoms and consequences, one of the worst things about it is that it’s pretty much impossible to cure. You just have to learn to live with it, which usually means making some sacrifices and taking note of things you previously didn’t look out for. Thankfully, there are some ways to make that life a bit easier, including ones brought to life by advancements in technology and digital healthcare. That doesn’t mean more can’t be done, however.
Health2Sync: Taking Care of Yourself is Easier With a Partner
Typically, diabetics use mobile applications to make monitoring their glucose levels, planning their diet and organizing their life. There are many apps offering these functionalities. For example, Health2Sync allows users to easily log all the important data. It can be done manually, but if an additional cable is purchased, blood sugar levels can also be uploaded directly from a glucometer and the application also supports a variety of Bluetooth health devices. The information gathered can be easily exported to a PDF or Excel file. The cool thing about Health2Sync is that it employs a partner system – a loved one or a friend can be invited to help monitor the patient’s health and motivate him or her whenever needed. It’s an interesting idea that can make someone feel a little bit less alone in the disease.
Health2Sync allows diabetics to easily log all the important data.
GlucoseMama: Help Aimed at Diabetic Mothers
Another interesting example is GlucoseMama – a mobile app we developed in 10Clouds. It’s meant for pregnant women suffering from gestational diabetes – a type of disease that sometimes (in around 10% of cases) develops during pregnancy. It requires constant supervision – future moms have to check their blood pressure several times a day and plan their diet carefully. The app tracks their glucose levels, mood and carb intake. The interesting thing about GlucoseMama is that it doesn’t just gather data – it also tells women what it means, educates them to better understand the disease and teaches them what’s best for them and their little ones. It also rewards users with special badges for nearly every important and healthy step, providing a sort of emotional support, something that’s rarely considered by software developers.
Glucose Mama teaches mothers what’s best for them and their little ones
Glucosio: Help In Organizing Your Life And Diet
The third attractive software solution is Glucosio: Diabetes Tracker. It’s an open source application that was created with both type 1 and type 2 diabetics in mind. What makes it a forerunner is that it tracks a lot of useful info – not just blood glucose, blood pressure and body weight, but also ketones or “ketone bodies”. They’re created when our bodies break down fat to get energy) and A1c hemoglobin (it even offers a conversion calculator. Users can set reminders to help themselves remember about medication and necessary workout. The app also gives users the option to anonymously share their data to help in scientific research.
MyNetDiary: A Large Database and Health Monitoring Tool for Diabetics
The last tool to recommend is actually comprised of not one, but two apps: MyNetDiary Calorie Counter and Diabetes & Diet Tracker. The first one can be used by pretty much everyone and it offers basic help with maintaining (or getting to) a healthy weight. Users can scan barcodes and enter them into a large database, where food is graded on a somewhat simple, but generally effective healthiness scale. People can even provide their own input – by making photos of things they buy. They just add labels – the information about nutrients is later entered into the database by a special team. The app also allows users to set weight goals and plan exercise. It has all the basic tools required for effective weight management – and more.
MyNetDiary provides a built-in barcode scanner. This makes tracking food much easier!
The companion software – Diabetes & Diet Tracker – on the other hand, is aimed squarely at diabetics and it offers additional options on top of Calorie Counter functionality. It supports people suffering from different types of the disease: 1, 2, gestational and even prediabetes (the stage before full blown diabetes, when some of the symptoms occur, but a more severe condition usually can still be avoided – which makes monitoring your health data even more important). Users can monitor blood glucose and insulin, water intake, HbA1c, weight, cholesterol, net carbs. The application also offers virtual coaching to assist and motivate people to live a healthier life.
Apps for Diabetics: What More Can Be Done?
There are many possibilities. One option that comes to mind is specialization in the vein of aforementioned GlucoseMama, and creating apps aimed at particular groups of patients. For example, while diabetes can render sports a bit more dangerous, it doesn’t mean a healthy lifestyle should be neglected. In fact, it’s quite the opposite – it’s highly recommended for people suffering from the disease. Sport helps improve blood glucose control and lessens the risks of some of the secondary diabetes-related health problems.
If I had to live with that disease, I certainly wouldn’t mind having an app that would allow me to track my health, diet and sport achievements, all in one place. It simplifies things and allows for much better functionality than using – for example – one of the applications mentioned above and fitness trackers such as Endomondo or Samsung Health. This way, patients can be reminded of things they must look out for, problems healthy people simply don’t have, like hypos (hypoglycemia – too low blood sugar levels), or the effect a particular sport discipline can have on their blood sugar (yes, they can differ quite a bit).
The app could even calculate possible outcomes based on health data, intensity and duration of training, issuing a “stop” warning whenever appropriate. Sure, some of the apps for diabetics on the market offer sync options with popular fitness trackers, but it’s not the same. Specialized software will almost always fare better than a general solution.
Another idea that comes to mind is an app meant for diabetic children. It could help them manage their health, but at the same time, educate them on their condition and possibly even general biology – because why not? Couple that with adequately fun and colorful graphic design and user interface. Find a way to make kids want to use your app, and you’ve got something really interesting on your hands. Of course, Type 1 diabetes (one that occurs early in life, because of damage to insulin producing cells, and therefore can affect kids) is rarer than Type 2 (it occurs when the body can’t produce enough insulin or can’t use it properly, which typically affects older people), affecting around 5-10% of all patients suffering from the disease. Making an app just for that group might seem counter-productive, but it’s actually a pretty huge client base, and a very important one too. It definitely shouldn’t be neglected.
App meant for diabetic children could help them manage their health, but at the same time, educate them on their condition
A different and, in a way, more straightforward approach is evolving current ideas, by adding new functionalities and possibilities for users. One of the things mentioned most often by people suffering from diabetes is the fact that they usually have to be in permanent contact with their doctors. Typically, it involves looking at the health data (mostly glucose levels, weight, blood pressure, cholesterol and so on) and renewing prescriptions – and that’s it. But still, the appointment has to be scheduled and the trip has to be taken.
Depending on how efficient health service is in a given country, and/or other factors such as age and general health, it can be a real pain in the patient’s backside. Especially since it really doesn’t need to work that way, does it? There’s no reason why data can’t be analyzed without the patient being present and consultation can be done online, just as well. With the right system in place, prescriptions – especially repeat ones – also can be signed and offered to patients without the need for direct contact with them.
What Will the Future Hold?
Diabetes is a pretty widespread disease. Type 2 especially can be considered a consequence of our style of life – a disease of civilization – and, sadly, there are no signs that things will change in the foreseeable future. However, that also means there’s a need for diabetes-related apps and technologies. All that’s needed to tap into it is the right offer for the users – an on-point idea that will make their lives easier.