Using Smartphone Apps for Glycemic Control in Diabetes: What Improvements Are Still Needed?

checking glucose levels
Woman comparing result of glucose level check on the traditional glucometer and on the mobile phone reading from modern technology remote sensor mounted on her forehand
Researchers analyzed diabetes mobile applications to evaluate patient self-management capabilities and the compliance of these apps with diabetes care guidelines.

After careful consideration, the Endocrine Society canceled its annual meeting (ENDO 2020), which was set to take place in San Francisco, California, from March 28 to 31, 2020, because of concerns regarding coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). Research findings that were scheduled to be presented at the meeting have been published in a supplemental issue of the Journal of the Endocrine Society.

The society is hosting ENDO Online, a complimentary virtual event featuring on-demand and live programming, from June 8 to 22, 2020, to provide a platform for continued learning and research exhibition. For more information, visit the Endocrine Society’s website.

Smartphone applications that provide tracking of health data can be a useful tool in the management of diabetes, but available apps are still lacking in incorporation of current diabetes guidelines, according to study results intended to be presented at the annual meeting of the Endocrine Society (ENDO 2020).

Researchers evaluated free Android mobile apps using the Diabetes Self-Management Education and Support (DSMES) and 2019 American Diabetes Association (ADA) guidelines for renal and cardiovascular complications. Using the search term “diabetes,” free apps in the Google Play store with 100,000 to 1 million downloads were identified. Included apps were required to incorporate DSMES criteria and medication adherence data (N=10).

According to the Google Play store, the top 10 apps (in descending order) were mySugr, Onetouch Reveal, OneDrop Diabetes Management, Diabetes: M, Diabetes, Ontrack Diabetes, Health2Sync, Diabetes Connect, Glucose Buddy Diabetes Tracker, and Blood Glucose Tracker. All apps gave users the ability to track blood glucose levels and 8 of 10 provided tracking of hemoglobin A1c levels. The percent of DSMES incorporation within the apps ranged from 18.2% to 81.8%, but none of the apps used all of the DSMES or 2019 ADA guidelines. Heart palpitation and retina/eye issue recommendations were present in 1 of the 10 apps. None of the apps had the ability to track cardiovascular and renal complications. Medication sound reminders were included in 7 of the 10 apps and push notifications were included in 4 of 10.

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“Despite [some] shortcomings, these apps provide an introduction to…patient-centered tracking of health data. We look for future improvements as more physicians use the apps and provide feedback to the app developers and eHealth commerce space” the investigators concluded.

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Lau CK, Wu G, Leung B, Momen D, Luu S. Patient-centered glycemic management of type 2 diabetes with mobile applications. J Endocr Soc. 2020;4(suppl 1):SAT-637.