Researchers: Smartphone apps beneficial to Type 2 diabetics

Diabetes paraphernalia

Type 2 diabetics can benefit from smartphone apps providing disease self-management features, especially young diabetes patients, reveals a new Cardiff University School of Medicine study published in Diabetes Care.

The study reviewed 14 randomized trials involving 1,360 diabetics and each noted a decrease, averaging about 0.05 percent, in blood glucose levels among patients using an app compared to those not using an app. The trials took place between January 1996 and June 2015.

Diabetes management apps, says Cardiff’s Ben Carter, offer a cheaper and dynamic option to disease management for an increasing diabetic population.

“With the number of patients globally with diabetes expected to rise to over 500m by 2030, there is an urgent need for better self-management tools,” Carter says in an announcement touting the study.

Diabetes apps let users monitor blood glucose levels by tracking diet and food intake as well as medication adherence.

As FierceMobileHealthcare has reported, diabetes has long been a prime focus for app developers, given the increasing diabetic population and consumer adoption of smartphones and apps. One of the latest app-diabetes research efforts is a study by Scripps Health on the value of text messaging and improving diabetes management among a high-risk Hispanic population in San Diego County.

Cardiff’s Carter says the expected global use of smartphones will surpass 5 billion by 2020.

“So apps, used in combination with other self-management strategies, could form the basis of diabetes education and self-management,” he says.

The Cardiff study describes apps as an “adjuvant intervention” to standard self-management for patients with type 2 diabetes.

“Given the reported clinical effect, access, and nominal cost of this technology, it is likely to be effective at the population level. The functionality and use of this technology need to be standardized, but policy and guidance are anticipated to improve diabetes self-management care,” the authors say.