Design, other perceived barriers, can impact use of diabetes apps

Despite a bevy of free digital health apps focusing on diabetes management, patients who need such tools are not always using them due to a variety of barriers, a small study published online in Telemedicine and e-Health finds.

Perceived barriers to use for 18 Type 2 diabetes patients included a lack of a physician recommendation, poor usability, the needed time investment to learn how to use the apps and a lack of self-motivation, according to the study. The patients all lived in rural environments and owned smartphones. Patients were surveyed regarding general app usage, and provided insight on four apps related to self-management of diabetes.

"Apps should include interface design with easy navigation and intuitive graphics, utilization of smartphone capabilities for automatic tracking, such as camera-based scanning or GPS-based tracking, and smooth integration of health app data with other existing tools, such as glucometers," the authors say.

The study feedback comes as diabetes-focused mHealth tools are fast morphing from apps to sophisticated device options that are helping consumers proactively management the disease.

The increasing focus on apps for diabetes management, FierceMobileHealthcare has reported, is in large part because of the growing number of U.S. citizens being diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes.

In addition to revealing hurdles in diabetes app use, the new study notes several favorite app features, including, self-monitoring and self-behavior tracking as well as the opportunity to gain further information and insight regarding the medical condition in a personal and customized fashion.

For more information:
- here's the study abstract

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