Do Smartphone Apps for Diabetes Work?

smart phone apps diabetesFor patients with diabetes, there are frequently a large number of variables to keep in mind; blood-glucose levels must be monitored using products such as the Freestyle diabetes test or the Prodigy auto code system, and depending on the type of diabetes and the severity, medicines ranging from pills to increase insulin sensitivity and insulin itself must be taken. One of the ways that diabetics have traditionally been encouraged to keep track of all of their treatment information in one place is through the use of diabetes log books. A diabetic log book is commonly available from most diabetic supply companies, and includes spaces for recording blood glucose levels, exercise, meals, and medicine dosage throughout the day. While this method is tried-and-true, with individuals increasingly turning to smart phones and other mobile devices as conveniences, a number of applications for diabetes care have sprung up. The question that is on the minds of doctors and patients both, however, is: do they work?


The jury is still out, unfortunately. Some apps, according to patients and doctors, work better than others; in the meantime, the common consensus is that there isn’t an app that is perfect—which is to be expected, considering the technology around such apps is in its infancy still. Managing diabetes requires time, memory, and math skills, and the apps that are available—both free and paid—can provide some help to diabetics, if used properly. Of course, there isn’t an app that can check your blood sugar for you as yet; therefore, diabetics must still use their Prodigy auto code or their Freestyle diabetes test, or whichever testing system they feel most comfortable with. And the apps also cannot administer medicine. However, some of the apps available are looking to take the place of the diabetes log books that many patients have traditionally carried around, and in this they may be on the road to success.


A diabetic log book is an important accessory: not only does it help patients to understand their day-to-day management, it also gives their medical team the ability to track trends, and to make suggestions for increasing blood sugar control. Apps are looking to help diabetics with tracking their blood sugar levels, counting carbohydrates, providing nutrition advice and even reminding patients about their medicine so that a dose isn’t missed. While some individuals with diabetes are thrilled about the utility of these apps, others find that they’re still not a good substitute for the older methods. One patient said, “The diabetes apps I have found to date are very disappointing,” while a doctor added, “If you don’t write it [the blood glucose numbers] you’re not feeling it.” There is also the issue that, like all tracking apps, there are occasional glitches, and sometimes information isn’t saved properly—which can lead to gaps. However, while apps can’t yet actually check blood sugar, or administer medicine, meaning that diabetics must still count on products such as the Freestyle diabetes test and the Prodigy auto code system, there may come a day in the near future when such apps replace the traditional diabetes log book, allowing for patients to keep their information more closely to hand than ever. While diabetes log books are somewhat bulkier, they’re still edging out the competition in terms of user-friendliness.


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