Smartphone improves glycemic control in type 1 diabetics

The use of a diabetes-related smartphone app combined with weekly text-message support from a healthcare professional can significantly improve glycemic control in adults with type 1 diabetes, concludes a study in the Journal of Medical Internet Research.

In a two-group randomized controlled trial of 72 participants, patients in both groups were asked to continue with their usual care, which included a visit to their primary diabetes healthcare practitioner every three months. Patients in to the intervention arm were given instructions to download SkyHealth LLC's Glucose Buddy, a free diabetes self-management iPhone app that allows users to manually enter blood glucose levels, insulin dosages, other medications, diet and physical activities. 

In addition, a text-messaging software program was used to text message patients from a Certified Diabetes Educator (intervention group). Over the six-month intervention period, a total of 1,714 text messages were sent, which equates to approximately two text messages per patient per week.

The study found that "integrating a smartphone application into secondary care was effective in improving glycemic control in patients with type 1 diabetes." Of the initial 72 patients, 53 completed the study (25 intervention, 28 control group). The intervention group significantly improved glycemic control from baseline to nine-month follow-up, compared to the control group.

No significant change over time was found in either group in relation to self-efficacy, self-care activities and quality of life, the article reports. "Our findings can be applied to adults with poorly controlled type 1 diabetes that own a smartphone, though larger studies over a longer duration need to be conducted to validate our findings," the authors write.

In related news, the American Diabetes Association (ADA) announced earlier this month that it is offering a free 12-month mHealth program to support individuals diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. Called Living With Type 2 Diabetes, the year-long program will provide information and offer free guidance at regular intervals to help people learn how to manage the disease.

Voxiva's Care4life diabetes self-management program is available as part of the ADA's Living With Type 2 Diabetes program, which uses text messages, a personal online portal and a mobile website to engage and support users as they learn about diabetes and form healthy habits. Care4life, which Voxiva announced in October 2012, delivers education, medication and appointment reminders, blood glucose tracking, weight and exercise goal setting and tracking, healthy recipes and nutrition tips and a virtual coach to provide motivation.

To learn more:
- read the study in JMIR 

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