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Handheld Applications for Diabetes Management

by Janine Manning, PharmD Candidate

LECOM School of Pharmacy

 

New technological advances over the past decade have led to extraordinary changes for those living with diabetes. Technology has allowed us to go from simply writing glucose values on paper to storing this information into glucometers or even using apps to log our information into different electronic devices.

Various programs can track our intake of carbohydrates and calories, even providing nutritional information for restaurant foods. The complicated daily tasks that diabetes patients have to perform have created a need for better methods of tracking, especially in our fast paced society where diabetes can be difficult to manage due to our hectic schedules.

I am not a diabetes patient but was lucky enough to work with a diabetes educator who asked me to live as if I had diabetes for three weeks. I am a fourth year pharmacy student and have a busy daily schedule. When “diagnosed” by my preceptor as diabetic, I had to start taking my blood glucose levels before meals three to four times a day, track my carbohydrate intake, and calculate bolus doses of insulin based on my carbohydrate intake and measured glucose levels. This process gave me a newfound respect for anyone diagnosed with diabetes: it requires perseverance and motivation to keep up with all of these tasks on a daily basis. I can now see how being diagnosed with diabetes could be a life-changing experience because it truly changes your daily life. In my search to simplify the tracking of diet and glucose levels, I went to my trusty handheld device to find an app. I found several apps that may be helpful for the newly diagnosed diabetic patient to get a handle on tracking their daily glucose levels and carbohydrate intake.

Measuring glucose levels is the first step for diabetes patients to understand what their body is doing with glucose. As we know, the pancreas is responsible for releasing insulin from the beta-cells to lower glucose levels throughout the day and after we eat. To figure out how well the pancreas is releasing insulin, patients should monitor their glucose levels and look at the trends after meals and fasting. Depending on physician recommendations, patients may be monitoring their glucose levels as much as four to six times per day or only once per day. A patient measuring their glucose levels once or more per day may benefit from entering their values into a program that allows for easy tracking and that can also graph the levels so glucose trends can be visualized. Some programs offer dietary logs and food databases so meals can also be logged and compared with blood glucose levels. The charts below illustrate different programs and what they offer based on what each individual may be looking for.  

 
 
Programs
Graph Glucose
Glucose
Log
Carb*
Log
Exercise
Log
Insulin
Dose Log
Medication Log/
Reminder
Email option
Print Data
Wavesense Diabetes Manager (Free)
 
X
 
X
 
X
 
 
X
 
 
X
 

Glucose Buddy-Diabetes Tracker (Free)

 
X
 
X
 
X
 
X
 
X
 
 
 
X
Blood Pal- Glucose Tracker (Free)
 
X
 
X
 
 
 
 
 
X
 
X
 
Glucose Charter ($0.99)
 
X
 
X
 
X
 
 
X
 
X
 
X
 
Diabetes Companion ($0.99)
 
X
 
X
 
X
 
X
 
X
 
 
X
 
Diamedic ($5.99)
 
 
X
 
X
 
X
 
 
X
 
X
 
X
 
UTS Diabetes ($8.99)
 
 
X
 
X
 
X
 
 
X
 
X
 
 
Diabetes Pilot ($11.99)
 
X
 
X
 
X
 
X
 
 
X
 
X
X
*Carbohydrate
 
Programs
A1C Estimator
Effect of meal on glucose
Online Manual/Help
Food Database
Recipe Finder
Online Videos
Sync to Online Account
Wavesense Diabetes Manager (Free)
 
 
 
 
 
 
X
 

Glucose Buddy-Diabetes Tracker (Free)

 
X
 
X
 
 
 
 
 
X
Blood Pal- Glucose Tracker (Free)
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Glucose Charter ($0.99)
 
 
 
X
 
X
 
 
 
Diabetes Companion ($0.99)
 
 
 
 
X
 
X
 
X
 
Diamedic ($5.99)
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
UTS Diabetes ($8.99)
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
X
Diabetes Pilot ($11.99)
 
X
 
X
 
 
X
 
 
 
X

(Costs Extra)

 

The only drawback with some of the programs is the use of a scatter plot (Wavesense, Diabetes Companion) to graph glucose levels rather than a line graph. This made comparing glucose level trends a little more difficult. Some of the programs also offered exercise logs for individuals trying to incorporate physical activity into their regimens as well as food databases, healthy recipe finders, or even online videos about diabetes. All of these programs offer a wide array of resources for the specific expectations of each individual patient at different prices.

Diet trackers are also available for patients who would like to track their dietary intake separately. Some programs include Carbs- Control ($1.99) and Low Carb Diet Assistant ($3.99). Both programs offer food databases along with restaurant foods that can be logged. The Low Carb Diet Assistant also allows for logging daily water intake if that is an important part of a person’s monitoring desires.

With the rise of technology, we can use many different programs to keep track of different dietary and lifestyle changes. I found that using apps helped to keep track of my dietary intake and glucose levels when I had to do so. I was able to find foods within databases when I wanted to go out to eat rather than searching the restaurant websites. These apps may be helpful to newly diagnosed patients who need some assistance in getting used to tracking their diabetes.

(c) Diabetes In Control, Inc. 2011