Apps for Diabetics: 5 Features You Should Zoom in On for Home Diabetes Care
Blood glucose (sugar) levels, our main source of energy, comes from the food we consume. Glucose is converted into energy in our cells with the help of insulin, a hormone made by the pancreas. Diabetes is associated with an overly high blood glucose level due to a lack of insulin or the body not using insulin well.
The common types of Diabetes are
Type 1 Diabetes : This is caused by an autoimmune reaction and usually develops during childhood.
Type 2 Diabetes : Most common form of diabetes worldwide, affecting middle-aged and older people due to lifestyle ( e.g. unhealthy diet, lack of exercise, obesity)
Gestational Diabetes : This occurs during pregnancy and usually goes away after baby is born
1 in 9 Singaporeans aged 18-69 have diabetes and a third of them do not even know that they have diabetes. In 2011, diabetes was the 10th leading cause of death in Singapore.
While diabetes cannot be cured, there are effective ways to manage your blood glucose levels to preserve your quality of life.
Mobile apps are gaining popularity in the health space for home diabetes care and other conditions but are they tracking the right metrics?
5 Essential Management Functions for Home Diabetes Care
According to the American Diabetes Association, there are 5 aspects of essential diabetes management.
Blood Glucose Level
A quick search on the Apple store shows many apps targeted at diabetics in Singapore but only a small number of apps factor in all 5 of these aspects.
A 2019 study ‘Examining Diabetes Management Apps Recommended From a Google Search: Content Analysis’ by researchers from the Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine at Nanyang Technological University (NTU) observed wide variability among the analyzed apps in terms of features and functions for diabetes management. Of the 24 apps tested in the study, two-thirds had blood glucose management features, and less than half had medication management features. The most prevalent feature was a nutrition or diet function, which was present in 79% of the apps. In addition, slightly more than half included functions for physical activity tracking, and a third had weight tracking functions.
Diabetic management requires an all-round approach. While these apps are still useful for a start, users may be misled into thinking that merely tracking some aspects is sufficient.
Based on the findings from the study, they identified two home diabetes care apps on app stores that track the full suite of Diabetes Management Functions.
Requires supported Accu-Chek wireless meters to automatically transfer blood glucose results
Saves you the hassle of written logs.
Comes with Easy to read graphs to identify trends and patterns.
Integrates with Apple health
Logs your meals, food images, insulin levels, exercise, medications, blood pressure and weight.
2. Glucose Buddy
Logs your blood glucose, medication and meals in a single entry.
Logs your meals, helps you understand how your food choices impact your blood sugar levels and make better food choices.
Tracks trends in blood sugar, insulin, weight and blood pressure.
Exports your data into pdf reports to show your medical provider.
Integrates with Dexcom and Apple Health app.
Below is a chart of the full list of diabetes apps included in the study. Despite most not tracking the 5 metrics, we believe that having some form of tracking coupled with your health checks by a professional is good for a start.
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