Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Diabetes Management via Apps

According to a new study from the eHealth Initiative (eHI), mobile health (mHealth) applications are helping socially disadvantaged populations with diabetes better manage their condition. The study supported by the California HealthCare Foundation (CHCF), reports that disadvantaged patients are using smart phones and mobile devices to overcome obstacles that often contribute to poor diabetes management, such as lack of access to healthcare providers.

More than 25 million Americans have diabetes today and many of them are uninsured or underinsured. As a result, these populations often have difficulty managing their condition, which can lead to numerous complications. The study looked at applications that can monitor medication adherence and healthy blood glucose levels to help patients better manage their diabetes.

The study is a literature review of 107 published articles since 2005 which evaluated the use of mHealth tools for diabetes management in medical practices. These tools enable patients to take a proactive approach to diabetes management by frequently monitoring their glucose values and healthy weight levels.

eHI identified a significant amount of research that demonstrated that by using these types of tools, patients were able to make positive changes in systolic blood pressure, improve glucose values, and reduce cholesterol.

Although smart phones tend to be the most common devices for today’s mHealth tools, there are also applications and programs available on the internet and through email, fax, or text messaging. Being readily available in various online and digital formats, mHealth applications are able to provide greater access to care regardless of an individual’s socioeconomic status, age, education level, or geographical location.

“Research shows that the majority of patients, including those who are disadvantaged have access to a mobile device or smart phone. These patients have tools at their fingertips to help manage their diabetes more effectively,” said Jennifer Covich Bordenick, CEO of eHI. “The use of mHealth tools provides a straightforward way for all populations to access information that assists in reducing risk factors.”

Currently, mHealth applications are the fastest growing sector of patient-centered tools industry. Over the past three years, the number of smart phone applications for diabetes has increased by almost 400 percent.

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