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iphone siri

Hey Siri, fix my blood sugar!

One phrase I find myself saying about my blood sugar management these days is “hey Siri” Our smart phones have become far more than calculators and logging apps. My smart phone has become a central part of my diabetes management. Whether you use Siri or Alexa let’s take a look at some features and uses of your smart phone.

4 Features of Your Phone That Can Help Manage Diabetes

1. paired pumping

DIY pumping using smartphones as the brains of an insulin pump has been a huge part of diabetes technology in the last couple of years. But pump manufacturers are getting on board too. The Tandem X2 pump with Control IQ has a companion app that pairs via Bluetooth to display real-time pump data. I use this in my own management to see what Control IQ is doing with my insulin that I might not be fully aware of. For example, if BG is trending down coming into a mealtime I can see just how much the system has reduced by basal insulin and I can add that insulin back into my meal bolus dose to avoid high blood sugars.

On the other side, I can see how the system is handling things like exercise to reduce insulin delivery to prevent hypoglycemia. Is it effective? Where do I need to get proactive to reduce insulin? Where are my traditional pump strategies not working well? I typically reduce my bolus ahead of my workouts to reduce cardio induced blood sugar drops and hypos. But when I did this with Control IQ my BG trended up before my workout which caused Control IQ to increase basal or even autobolus before my workout. This gave too much IOB and I had to head off a low. I found I have to adjust how I work through my workouts. Turning on exercise mode before I bolus is the first step. I also often will turn control IQ off entirely 2 hours ahead of my workout so I don’t get extra insulin, then I turn it back on about 20 minutes into my workout when my blood sugar is dropping, that way CIQ can help prevent lows but without adding to them.

2. reminders

This takes me to the next most used phone feature, reminders. The Control IQ system does not have timers on the exercise feature, or if I change to a profile for higher or lower insulin needs. (I sincerely hope the next upgrades will have these timers in place or at least some form of reminder) But for now, I have turned on the “hey Siri/Alexa” feature on my phone so I can just shout out to “remind me to swap profiles in the morning” when I eat a high fat dinner,  or “remind me to turn off exercise mode when I get back home” while I’m on a hike.

3. Audibles

Along with reminders we can also use voice control on our phones to hear status updates, notifications from our systems, and blood sugars. This is going to vary my app and by phone version etc so check out the capabilities of your phone and apps. Dexcom allows us to ask our phones what our blood sugar is. The Tconnect app lets me get pump alerts and reminders and alerts on your phone and these notifications can be read out on my iPhone by asking “Hey Siri read me notifications from (name the app)” This can be helpful for people who struggle with visual impairment and reading the small text of alerts and other notifications. These can also be a convenience and time saver, particularly while busy multitasking or driving.

Finally, if you’re not sure about a carb count you can just ask your phone! It makes carb counting on the run simpler and easier than ever!

4. merging data

We can use our phone’s health app to merge data to reduce redundancy. We can set up our apps to share data with our phone’s health app, then we can set up that app with “Write to and read from” permissions for various apps.

For example, I can have my Dexcom app data share to my logging app, I can have my logging app share with my clinician communication app, my Fitbit communicate to my log app,  and they can both communicate with my loop app! Now all of my data is captures through multiple sources into one place but I only had to enter it once. This reduces data collection burdens and also gives us a fuller picture of our diabetes world and the various impacts on our blood sugars. Health apps also have features for menstrual tracking, sleep tracking, stress management tools, making them invaluable tools for being more mindful of our wellness with ease.

Bottom Line:

If diabetes management is going to require more and more info and more and more tech, and our phones are a part of our lives that are here to stay, taking a little time to optimize how they all work together can reduce the burden of diabetes management, and even give us some new tools to improve our management! Siri can’t fix my blood sugar yet, but with Google and Apple both diving deeper into the biotech world we may not be too far from it.

I love learning about new tech and helping patients make the most of technology in their own management. It can be overwhelming and finding what works for you can be a balancing act.

What other tips do you have for integrating your diabetes world with your phone?

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