The National Diabetes Statistics Report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that 29 million Americans have diabetes, and 95 percent of them have Type 2, the form most associated with obesity. And interestingly the number of people age 20 or older with diabetes topped 1.7 million. It is also estimated that 86 million Americans 20 years and older may have prediabetes which increases the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.
The increase in incidence of diabetes (both type 1 and type 2) provides a lot of incentive for developers of Apps to create products to aid with management of chronic health conditions like diabetes. A study published in the journal Clinical Diabetes showed that “the use of mobile phones leads to improved A1C and self-management in diabetes care.”, assuming this is due to apps that aid with improved tracking and awareness of glucose patterns. In a basic count recently, I found 1000+ apps specific to diabetes management – WOW! Great that so much is available, but how can a person with diabetes figure out which app is right for them?
Depending on the needs of the individual, health apps can be very beneficial, especially from the standpoint of possible support. However, the person choosing the App needs to consider what they want or need to track as well as how tech-savvy they are, which can improve how they manage.
Step one in this process of choice should be to narrow down the apps based on your individual goals. For some people that might be a focus on weight control, while others need help tracking blood glucose and learning about their patterns. Some apps also help you to remember to take medication, change a pump site or reservoir or even track the amount of insulin taken via injection. Other people turn to their apps to find community support. Most people I work with agree there is no single app that does all of that completely — at least not yet.
Through trial, evaluation and online searches, I have found a handful of apps that meet most needs, and work very well. I aim to recommend apps that do not require someone to be an IT guru, since it is better if it easily serves the need and goal someone wants to use it for.
Tracking of BG and online data sharing:
Dbees, which tracks blood sugar and turns the numbers into a graph to print out for sharing with health care providers
Diabetes Tracker, ($9.99) – iPhone
Despite there being no FREE version, this app provides an intensive and easy-to-follow educational piece in addition to features for monitoring blood glucose, carbs, net carbs and more. Easy to see the big picture with daily and weekly reports. Allows you to set reminders for doctor appointments and provides food recipes and guidelines. For some, all of these features may be worth the extra expense.
mySugr. (Free or $27.99/year for Pro version) – iPhone and Android
FEATURES / ADD-ONS:
• Quick and easy logging of meals, meds, blood glucose values, activity, and more
• Personalized logging screen (add, remove, and reorder fields)
• Smart, clear blood glucose graphs
• Estimated HbA1c based on fingerstick data added to app (so there are no more nasty surprises)
• Daily, weekly, and monthly analysis
• Exciting challenges to achieve personal therapy goals
• Motivating feedback
• Insightful data analysis
• Apple Health® integration
• Registered (class 1) medical device
• Secure data backup
Integrates with devices to give you a more seamless management approach. CGM data integration via Apple Health® & CSV import (only available in German, French and English speaking countries)
With the mySugr PRO you also get
• Intelligent search in logs for BG and logs from previous locations, foods, activities (all searchable in the app)
• Additional report formats (PDF & Excel) for your physician
• Practical blood glucose reminders: never forget to check and log
• Photo gallery functions to aid with improved carb count and tracking of patterns
• Basal rates for pump users
• All challenges
• Web Importer & Analysis
• Unrestricted blood glucose scanning with the mySugr Scanner app. This allows the user to scan BG on a monitor and import directly into the mySugr app without opening it.
A new feature includes the mySugr Coaching. For many people, having an on-demand certified diabetes educator means you always have help and never feel alone. This additional feature allows you to work with your very own diabetes coach for high-quality, personalized advice based on the data logged in the app, whenever you need it.
Glucose Buddy (Free; premium version is $6.99) – iPhone and Android
I like the simplicity of navigation in this app. Glucose Buddy helps users manage their blood sugar, insulin dosages and carb intake.Also, includes other features that track exercise, blood pressure and weight. Allows the user to sync data to print it out or view online.
For Carb counting and weight management
Lose It! (Free; year of premium features $39.99) – iPhone (Apple Watch app, too) and Android
It helps you track what you eat, will help you set goals and has a large database that helps you calculate the composition of the food you eat. The new version for the Apple Watch nudges a user to stay on track with its notification feature.
Weight Watchers (Free to download; 12-month plan $169.99) – iPhone and Android
This easy-to-use app features 24/7 expert chat, which allows users to get motivation and advice from a certified coach. iOS 8 users can connect to Apple’s iHealth to link all health and fitness data — which is a big plus for those who want more tracking.
Myfitnesspal – iPhone and Android
FatSecret – iPhone and Android
Calorieking – iPhone
mynetdiary – iPhone and Android
Activity/Exercise and Support
Strava (Free or Strava Premium is available for $5.99/month or $59.99/year)
An all-purpose cycling and running app. I actually heard about this app from a friend with diabetes who was using it to train for a race. The app features many group challenges ( 10Ks, half-marathons, etc), and allows a social connection to others including people with diabetes who stay active.
Healthseeker (Free) – iPhone
Developed in conjunction with the noted Joslin Diabetes Center and the Diabetes Hand Foundation, this app is all about finding a little help from your friends. It recognizes that managing your condition is all about cooperation and collaboration. Sine it can be hard after initial diagnosis to find other with diabetes, this app may be a good start since, at its core it is a social game.