Diabetes tools progressing from monitoring to proactive disease management

Diabetes apps and mobile digital health devices are fast advancing from tracking and collecting blood sugar readings to more comprehensive capabilities to help diabetics be more proactive in healthcare and in the management of the chronic ailment.

The innovations taking place are also spurring providers to develop diabetes care management strategies that extend beyond the clinic environment, reports mHealth Intelligence.

"People with diabetes have to cope with the diagnosis, cope with daily challenges, face fear of complications, incur expenses, carve out time for medical visits and self-care, and still, unfortunately, some people will develop complications and have to deal with frustration, fear, depression, burn-out, embarrassment and so on," Sherri Shafer RD, CDE, a senior registered diabetes dietitian and educator at UCSF Medical Center, tells mHealth Intelligence.

The emerging tools are helping diabetics be more diligent in daily disease-related tasks; such greater personal control can help reduce the potential for stress, depression, fear and other feelings that often come into play when dealing with a chronic ailment, Shafer says.

While such tools increasingly are becoming more capable, basic digital tools are proving valuable for chronic disease patients. For instance, a new paper reveals mobile phone use in health coaching efforts can boost adherence to healthy behaviors, improve glucoregulation levels and foster better mental health for patients managing Type 2 diabetes.

Additionally, customized and personalized tools also are showing good results, as FierceMobileHealthcare has reported. A recently developed app may spur increased self-care by patients managing diabetes, according to researchers.

Yet, despite all the benefits, mobile health technology adoption, especially among providers, has been slow.

"Most mobile health applications these days, which I think of as primarily apps, are terrible, and I don't think they help people with diabetes very much," Bill Polonsky, co-founder and president of the Behavioral Diabetes Institute, tells mHealth Intelligence. "I certainly don't think they help people with diabetes distress. I think one of the mistakes that's often made is there's this broad assumption among app developers in particular of, if we just give people feedback on how they're doing, that'll take care of everything. Just throwing one's blood sugar charts on an app on your phone is not going to accomplish much of anything."

For more information:
- read the article at mHealth Intelligence