Study: Mobile apps for diabetes self-monitoring lack necessary features

A pilot study on whether mobile apps can help diabetics better monitor and track vision changes reveals more work needs to be done in incorporating mHealth technology into diabetic patient care, and a need for better self-vision testing apps.

The research, published in Journal of Diabetes Science and Technology, explored the use of the free app SightBook to engage patients in their own healthcare, record diabetes self-management, access diabetes medical care and vision information and boost communication between patients and physicians.

Results indicate that while patients are enthusiastic for such tools, progression of diabetic retinopathy, a diabetic condition, was not well-monitored using the app.

"Limitations of this study include the fact that the mobile app was not specifically designed for diabetic health care," the report's authors conclude. "Future trials should modify the mobile app to have laboratory values recorded and interpreted for patient knowledge. In addition, incorporating Bluetooth glucose monitoring and other existing diabetic mobile apps would be useful."

The study participants created personal medical profiles with SightBook and asked patients' physicians to access the patient's secure site, upload data and view the patient–physician profiles. Each patient's diabetologist and ophthalmologist provided reports and test results. The patients and participating physicians were able to view the coordinated online record of patient self-testing, physician notes and pertinent laboratory test results.

According to the report there are more than 400 mHealth apps related to diabetes in the Apple iTunes store, which houses a total of 8,000 mobile health apps. But none incorporate the inclusion of the patient's diabetologist and ophthalmologist, study authors point out.

More than 25 million adults in the U.S have diabetes and 40 percent have some degree of diabetic retinopathy. New research reveals mobile monitoring of diabetic employees can save more than $3,000 a year in healthcare costs, half of the average annual medical insurance cost for workers diagnosed with diabetes.

Recent mobile tech pilot efforts include a text messaging approach for teen diabetics.           

For more information:
-read the report