With the pandemic and all the jazz it brought along with it, 2020 taught us just how important it is to take our health and wellbeing seriously. Fortunately, with technology on our side, we can now better keep our health in check with a few simple taps. This does not only go for Covid but non-pandemic-related health conditions such as diabetes as a typical example.
Mobile apps have been mainly at the forefront of diabetes mitigation. So, the real question is, does it help? We’re glad you asked. This article entails everything you need to know about mobile apps for diabetes. Without further ado, let’s get to it.
How helpful are mobile apps for people with diabetes?
As technology gradually becomes more integrated into our daily lives, so has the healthcare system. We used to rely on visits to the local clinic for a check-up or to address a concern. Now, we can simply connect with our healthcare providers through a seamless chat system or a virtual meeting through a mobile health app, for example, without taking a foot off your doorstep.
Not only does it save you time, but it can also save you costs, especially when you need to commute to reach your local clinic. Health information management has also become more accessible for healthcare providers to better assess and treat patients with gathered data from these mobile apps.
How does technology help you manage diabetes?
Diabetes self-management has been made possible through the continuous development and innovation of mobile health apps, specifically to manage diabetes to a healthy level. While each app may have its specializations, these several app features have helped people manage diabetes simply.
Blood glucose logging
Tracking and monitoring your blood glucose levels is vital to determine management approaches and further guide healthcare professionals on the best next steps to take for patients. Mobile apps now enable self-monitoring of blood glucose or SMBG for short, eliminating the tedious need to have a paper and pen ready wherever you go. Several apps offer a graphical display of your SMBG to identify patterns and serve as an indicator of how you are progressing.
Carb-tracking and nutrition database
Keeping an eye on how many calories and carbohydrates you ingest is absolutely essential when it comes to optimal glycemic control. The food you eat correlates to the changes in your blood glucose levels and, most importantly, indicates the exact amount of insulin you may need to maintain healthy blood glucose levels. These apps may very well be a great reminder and guide to patients on what and how much they choose to eat.
To ensure you know the exact nutrients you are about to intake, apps have features that enable you to look it up by scanning a bar code or typing them down, including carb levels, protein, and calories. This not only aids users to make healthier food choices but also educates them on how to choose foods that suit their health needs and perhaps provides advice to those around them.
Weight and physical activity tracking
ADA (American Diabetes Association) indicated that moderate weight loss is proven to improve overall health and insulin resistance significantly. These mobile apps can also track users’ physical activities, such as when they go for a jog or workout, and track caloric intakes to achieve and sustain a healthy weight and reach their fitness goals.
Note: Before starting a new fitness regimen, always consult with your local healthcare professional, as changes in physical activities may have an impact on one’s condition.
As the world takes advantage of paperless technology to compress, convert, and share files with a tap of a button, apps have wasted no time including this as a feature to their apps. Users can easily send a quick e-mail and export their health data into a file to their local health care professional.
As users can sync their live data with their local healthcare professionals, this helps HCPs better identify patterns and make the necessary changes based on the data sent from their patients.
Relying on mobile health apps: Pros and Cons
Like a coin and in all things, there are always two sides to everything, and the same goes for mobile health apps. As a rundown, we have compiled the pros and cons you need to know about mobile health apps before using them.
The fact that smartphones have undeniably become an integral part of our lives also means that monitoring blood glucose levels can be done no matter when and where users may be. Plus, smartphones are the preferable option when heading to social gatherings.
Bringing a glucose meter everywhere may seem like a hassle to most people. Smartphones are not just for millennials. People of all ages have become accustomed and familiarized with utilizing smartphones for daily errands, and in this case, to manage their health.
Readily available and accessible
Rapid advancements in technology features and software have enabled apps to have more advanced and powerful functionalities than paper logbooks per se. Apps with blood glucose logging features would allow users to see live-updating statistics of their current blood glucose levels and even color codes to indicate whether blood glucose levels are low, okay, or high, as an example.
Help do error-free repetitive tasks.
Today, time is of the essence, and people tend to have shorter attention spans in line with how the world is progressing before us. This leaves room for error when tasked with repetitive and dull tasks, but not for apps. Mobile apps have enabled features such as Continuous Glucose Monitoring (CGM) to be automatically analyzed for you, updated every 5 minutes for a whole day without stopping, and is also capable of alerting users on any trend that may jeopardize his or her health (e.g., a sudden glucose level spike).
Share health data with ease
As mentioned, these apps’ convenience is the ability to transfer diabetes data to healthcare professionals on a tap quickly. The fact that digital data prevents the occurrence of biochemical hazards from handling paper-based logbooks and retains data integrity by eliminating error sources such as unclear handwriting or stained pages.
Loss of features
As mobile apps continue to improve and get feature updates, this also means that bugs and feature removals may occur (though not intended). Some updates may mean the introduction of new pricing models on features that were previously free for users. Depending on which app you choose, some apps that an established team or company doesn’t strongly support may go unsupported and abandoned when they lack sustainability management.
Zero governmental regulation (for most apps)
Some of these apps might not be properly regulated or approved by governments or the Food and Drug Administration. This may result in apps not performing the advertised function that it claims to provide. Resultingly, this may make users prone to potentially harmful recommendations due to typos or configurational flaws, which can be a matter of life and death in worst-case scenarios.
Privacy is a highly regarded factor in the lives of any user. The fact that mobile apps enable data sharing may also mean the possibility of a compromise in data security from malicious hacking that exposes user data to the wrong hands. In response to this, the Diabetes Technology Society (DTS) has established industry standards to ensure approved mobile health app usage safety.
Best Diabetes Apps to Date
To stay up-to-date with the latest and best diabetes apps, we have provided a shortlist of some of the best apps you can utilize for diabetes self-management.
- Bluestar Diabetes
- Glucose Buddy
- Diabetes: M
- Beat Diabetes
So, are mobile apps for diabetes helpful? The short answer is yes! But please be advised that these apps only serve as a tool to help you better manage your blood glucose levels and health, not as a replacement for going on regular check-ups with your health care professionals. So long as you select the right apps that best suits your needs and familiarize yourself with how to make the most out of these app features, these apps should serve you well on your health journey.