Real Time Communications Featured Article

How the Everyday App Can Bolster Diabetes Treatment

December 31, 2015

It's disturbing that one in three Americans is at risk of developing diabetes. Throw in the added stresses of the condition, the combined $245 billion in lost wages, medical costs, and similar issues it represents, and the value of a simple way to manage such conditions is clear. The simple use of a smartphone app can mean much better management of these conditions.

Dollars and cents aren't the only issue here, as revealed by psychiatrist and University of Washington associate professor Dr. Lydia Chwastiak. Chwastiak noted that diabetics come with a self-care regimen that requires about two hours a day, by some estimates, and many have some significant emotional issues involved as well. This is where mobile health (mHealth) apps come in.

The standards are in play, of course; users have access to measuring blood glucose and determining how much insulin needs to be added at any given time. Current apps are also bringing in new tools like analytics and education to help address several pain points of diabetes, like the frustration and fear involved in having the disease, along with the burnout that can result from handling the same issue for an extended period of time. Reducing the time required to maintain the disease improves the likelihood that the recommendations provided by a physician will be kept up, and thus better outcomes follow.

The app, when used appropriately, can be a substitute for some matters only a physician could handle in the past. The Behavioral Diabetes Institute's founder, Dr. Bill Polonsky, noted that most mobile health applications are “terrible,” and that the actual help provided to diabetics isn't much. So the new apps offer more options, more education, and a better way to handle the matter, which gives the patients involved a sense of satisfaction and accomplishment.

Speaking here as someone who has a diabetic family member, it really is a process that requires a lot of maintenance to keep on top of it. If apps can be effectively used to better manage the disease, then by all means, do so. That ready availability makes it more likely to be used, and real time communications tools could be a particular help here, as we've already seen the growth of telemedicine come around. With one of the biggest issues being physicians not having the time to address issues in live meetings, there's nothing saying that other physicians couldn't be called into the app to deliver the kind of information and time needed to generate the best response.

Diabetes is not an easy thing to live with, and in the end, any tool that helps effectively manage it is a good tool to have on hand. Real time communications, telemedicine, and better mHealth apps can't hurt here, and have a great potential to do good.

Edited by Kyle Piscioniere

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