How to monitor diabetes with smartphone apps

According to a report published by the World Health Organization last year, there are more than 347 million people suffering from diabetes worldwide. This chronic disease causes increased levels of glucose in the blood, a condition that is harmful to inner organs and other systems of our body and which therefore must be controlled and monitored.

With smartphones gaining popularity, this monitoring has become easier thanks to simple mobile apps. As we will see, there are other, more advanced solutions as well. Some of them were made specifically for professional users, designed to support them with the diagnostics and treatment of this disease.

Diabetes Pharma, a Spanish app for pros

Ever since it was presented to the public in September last year, Diabetes Pharma (available for iOS and Android) has broken record after record. It not only reached more than 4,000 downloads in just one month, it also held the title of the most downloaded app in the “Medicine” category of the App Store for various weeks. And this application proudly carries the “made in Spain” stamp, as it was created by health professionals in the Extremadura region.

Diabetes Pharma is aimed at health professionals and allows medical staff to choose the best treatment for each case of type 2 diabetes (which is the most common type) according to the recommendations of the American Diabetes Association and the European Association for Diabetes Studies, using different parameters like effectiveness, hypoglycemia risk and weight.

Social Diabetes: complete follow-up

Another very promising project related to diabetes monitoring (although in this case dealing with type 1) is Social Diabetes, also of Spanish origin. In this case we are talking about an entire ecosystem consisting of a smartphone application as well as a web tool which may be accessed using any web browser. In 2012 this app was considered the best spanish smartphone app in the mHealth category of the World Summit Award Mobile, as we explained here a few months ago.

Developed by Víctor Bautista, an IT specialist suffering from type 1 diabetes himself, the goal of Social Diabetes is to become the perfect tool for consultancy and monitoring for patients and health professionals. Messages, warnings, history, a calculator, records of doctor’s appointments and automatic insulin calculation are its main features, although it includes many more. The idea behind it? To collect all information in one app so the user doesn’t have to use any other tools.

Social Diabetes can also be used by doctor, allowing them to look after their patients remotely and evaluate their progress. You can also scan barcodes of different meals and products to look up additional information and one of its features is a social platform which different people suffering from the same illness can use to communicate with each other.

Applications plus glucose meters

There are other alternatives combining smartphone apps and external glucose meters, which go even further and offer continuous monitoring. iBGStar is one example. This small device connects directly to an iOS device and allows glucose measurements almost anywhere, at any time. The information is directly transferred to the application, which stores and analyzes the data and alerts the user when necessary.

Glooko is another app that works in a similar way and is also compatible with up to 17 different glucose meters. Using a special cable provided by the manufacturer, all the user has to do is connect the meter and the telephone starts collecting data from the meter and even sends it periodically to a doctor if the patient wants.

In the end the responsibility remains with the user

If there is one thing all these applications have in common it is them being no more than tools to support users in their everyday life. They may provide guidelines in certain situations, but all of them remind us that the responsibility remains with the user himself. The goal is not to replace the doctor, as a spokesperson of Social Diabetes acknowledged in an interview, but to offer doctors and patients a better way to control and monitor diabetes treatment using new technologies and taking advantages of smartphones.