Diabetes in a Digital world, Where to start?
3 November 2016, 09:33
We live in an ever increasing digital age where technology has had a profound impact on many industries, in the last few years the healthcare industry has been the target for a digital revolution.
Large tech corporations such as Google, Apple, IBM and Philips are investing heavily into the digital healthcare sector, with innovative ways to improve health and faster methods to detect and diagnose diseases. It’s not just the big companies though; start-ups all around the world are creating apps, wearables and platforms to support medication adherence, weight management, pain management and many other aspects of health.
This month DHEZ are focusing on diabetes and how digital innovations can help patients better manage their condition.
So what is diabetes?
Diabetes is a condition where the amount of glucose in your blood is too high because the body cannot use it properly. There are two types of diabetes, Type 1 and Type 2. Diabetes management largely centres on monitoring and managing blood glucose levels. This is done by controlling what you eat and knowing how foods affect your blood sugar. It also requires you to take insulin or other medication, and establish a healthy lifestyle which encompasses eating better, exercising, getting enough sleep and managing stress.
So how can digital help?
One of the most beneficial ways digital can help is with monitoring your blood glucose levels and tracking these results. How about using an app which can be used to assess the foods you eat and measure carbohydrate levels, so that you’re always within the required limits? We surveyed people with diabetes to ask ‘what digital tool do you use to monitor your blood glucose?’ The most popular response was mySugr. The mySugr logbook is an app which allows you to log, test and monitor your blood glucose it also has add-on apps which allow you to import your data straight into your logbook, analyse your readings, a scanner to measure blood glucose and educational programs to help you learn more about your condition.
A key issue in diabetes management is medication and insulin administration, in a busy day we can all forget to take our medicine but when you have diabetes this can be life threatening. So how about an app which sends a text reminder when you need to take your medicine? You can set it to alert you at a specific time or place and chose how frequently to do so. Apps like MyMedSchedule, MyMeds and MedSimple have been reviewed and are recognised as the top apps to help you manage your medication.
Diet and exercise are key in helping Type 2 Diabetes patients’ control their condition. Wearables like the Fitbit can be used as a daily tracker to monitor physical activity. Coupled with the app you can track your calorie intake and chart your progress over long periods of time. Data collected via apps and devices can be then taken to your doctor to determine whether your treatment is working.
There is a wealth of advice and apps available online to help you manage your diabetes, the majority of us have access to an internet enabled smartphone, so why not make use of it? Using apps and wearables is a very useful way of self managing your diabetes and allowing yourself to go about your daily lives whilst knowing that when it’s time to take your insulin there’ll be a text waiting.