The sweet spot: Blood sugar monitoring with apps

Diabetes is among the most common, costly, and preventable chronic diseases that our healthcare system must contend with. According to the American Diabetes Association, approximately 26 million children and adults have diabetes in the United States, of which nearly 95 percent have type 2 diabetes. 

As the most common form of diabetes, type 2 diabetes is even more prevalent among African Americans, Latinos, Native Americans, and Asian Americans/Pacific Islanders, as well as the older population. In addition, just as troubling, there is an emerging epidemic of type 2 diabetes, which has been associated with obesity, among children and young adults.

With exploding diabetes rates, managing this chronic disease has never been more important. However, patients can't control what they can't keep track of. To that end, there is a growing body of evidence that blood glucose monitors can help diabetics to effectively record and manage their blood sugar levels with positive results, as demonstrated in clinical trials.  

In 2010, Baltimore-based WellDoc received approval from the the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to sell DiabetesManager, its remote monitoring system for patients with type 2 diabetes. As a just released report from the IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics states, "One of the most advanced apps for condition management and remote monitoring, approved by the FDA, is the WellDoc Diabetes Management software available through the app store with partner AT&T."

The report points out that a critical component of WellDoc's DiabetesManager is its "Guided Compliance" tool which directs patients to test their blood glucose at optimal times to generate data for pattern analysis. Moreover, the software provides a coaching tool that suggests medication and lifestyle/self-management changes to patients. 

In the latest innovation, WellDoc announced late last month that it has successfully demonstrated the ability to predict hypoglycemia (a dangerously low blood sugar level) in patients with type 2 diabetes. Once the company achieves further validation of its prediction algorithms and receives clearance from the FDA, WellDoc plans to include them in the company's FDA-cleared BlueStar software for use on mobile phones, which is the prescription version of WellDoc's DiabetesManager.

Monitoring blood sugar levels is the way for diabetics to keep these levels closer to normal, which can delay or prevent the onset of complications. Granted, mobile apps are not for everyone. We all have different comfort levels with wireless devices, especially when it comes to something as important as managing our own health. But, diabetic patients owe it to themselves and their loved ones to give it a try. - Greg (@Slabodkin)