Mobile Management

A few months ago, we reported on a survey that asked parents of children with diabetes if they would be interested in a combined cell phone/blood glucose meter that could send readings to the child’s doctor. Such devices have been around for a few years, and it’s no surprise that most parents were receptive to the idea.


With the growing popularity in recent years of Internet-enabled “smartphones,” however, the possibilities for mobile diabetes management have expanded dramatically. With phones equipped to handle advanced software and no need to limit communication to 160-character text messages, “complete” diabetes management programs — such as those designed for home computers that let users import blood glucose readings through a cable, and to give their health-care team access to this data online — can now be carried in your pocket at all times. This means that instead of offering a means of organization and long-term feedback, programs can be designed to give instant feedback after each blood glucose reading.

But are such programs worth the potential expense, or the trouble of using them throughout the day? At least one study is under way to find out whether they lead to better diabetes control. As described in an Associated Press article, Howard University Hospital’s diabetes clinic in Washington, DC, has enrolled low-income people with diabetes — for whom getting diabetes under control tends to be more difficult — in a trial of mobile diabetes-management software created by, an Indiana-based company. Participants are given a reduced monthly rate for the smartphone used in the study in exchange for their active participation. If a blood glucose reading that a participant enters is outside a customized target range, a warning pops up telling the person what to do. All readings are saved and become part of someone’s “personal health record,” which doctors and nurses can access and use to evaluate the success of someone’s diabetes treatment at personal check-ups. The software can also give users reminders, sending them a text message when it’s time for them to take a medicine or check their blood glucose level.

A study of a similar software program by WellDoc Inc., conducted at the University of Maryland medical school with 260 participants, will announce its results this fall. A small pilot study conducted earlier by the software company found that over three months, software users’ average blood glucose level, as measured in regular readings, dropped. Other providers of mobile diabetes management software include Sinovo, maker of the SiDiary for smartphones and pocket-PC. None of these programs make use of a combined blood glucose meter/cell phone as described in the introduction; users must instead enter blood glucose readings manually.

What do you think — are mobile software programs the future of diabetes management? Or is this the wrong approach for Type 2 diabetes, a condition that disproportionately affects older people? Would you sign up for a program that, like the Howard study, offered you a reduced monthly rate on a smartphone in exchange for your participation? If you already use or have used mobile software to manage your diabetes, would you recommend it to others? Leave a comment below!

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  • Larry

    I believe this is something most people need. We hate to be nagged, but also we constantly forget to take our readings and medicine. It would be best if we had the sensor talk to our phone because we do need to be nagged.

    The problem, as I see it, would be the high price of data transfer fees of the providers. Some of us need to check our blood glucose 3 to 5 times a day and I seem to remember the costs as high as a dollar per text message. Not just for us to transmit the message but also to receive a message.

    If this is to work then the providers need to make any medical data transmission free or a minimum cost. Even at 10 cents a message this could still cost an extra $30.00 per month on my phone bill.

    Great Idea possibly a very important step in providing preventative medicine not only for Diabetics but even cardiac patients but something we need to make free or very cheap for people to actually use.

  • Tom Hargis

    Yes I would sign up for the reduced rate on a smartphone for my participation. I’m for anything that would help me keep control of my blood glucose.You would think with the amount of technology that this could be made possible.

  • Cyndi

    Lower rate on my phone bill and better management of my diabetes? Sign me up! My phone is always on me – I don’t have a land line and my phone is just as accessible as my glucometer or my insulin pen. If they provided assistance with the program I’d be the first in line.

  • Maureen

    Being an older adult, I believe it would be useful if it is easy to use and the fonts are large enough.

  • Cynthia Armistead

    I would be much more likely to participate in that kind of program if the phone and meter were integrated, so I didn’t have to enter the readings manually. That would be the annoying bit, and that’s where errors are most likely to occur. I don’t need to be nagged to test most of the time, but I do need reminders to eat and take my meds. I’m a type II diabetic, but my sugar runs too low most of the time due to forgetting to eat.

    If there are fees for those text messages and so on, though, I can’t honestly see any advantages to the program. I can and do already set up text message reminders for myself, and I already have a phone plan with free text messages. I bought the software that lets me download data from my OneTouch meter to my computer, and I can send that to my doctor’s office periodically.

    It isn’t as nifty having the data go to him with every reading, but I seriously doubt that anyone there would pay attention to the data until time for my visit every few months anyway. That’s fine, honestly, because my A1C is staying around 5.4 and could stand to go up a bit.

    I would still like to have some kind of software that would allow me to keep a record of my readings with me, preferably synchronized with the OneTouch software so that I’m not duplicating data. I just started evaluating applications for my iPod Touch, but haven’t gotten very far in that process.