New apps help diabetics manage data and get support
Crowdsourcing lets users manage their health and connect with others living with the disease.
Diabetes is not an easy condition to manage: it requires a lot of time and attention to detail, not to mention good math skills. Fortunately, there are several smartphone applications that offer nutrition advice, count carbs, track blood sugar levels and alert users when it's time to take their medication. And two new diabetes apps are aimed at making managing the disease even easier.
Dario Smart Meter, an app developed by LabStyle Innovations Corp., is a compact all-in-one glucose meter that plugs directly into a smartphone. Users can get their glucose reading and track their meals, and in the case of low blood sugar, the app can send a medical alert to a friend or loved one. All user data is stored in an online profile. The data can be accessed from a phone or computer, and users can forward it to their health care provider.
The company, founded in Caesarea, Israel, in 2011 with production facilities in Minnesota, initiated a soft launch in March of this year. Dario is already available in Italy, New Zealand and the United Kingdom.
“(W)e are trying to change the way that diabetics will deal with their disease not just by providing a new device, but also trying to change their behavior with the app and with giving them empowerment and motivation,” LabStyle CEO Erez Raphael said.
While Dario focuses on managing diabetes, another app called HelpAround is all about peer-to-peer support. Released in the Android and Apple stores in January, the free mobile-only app automatically detects users' location and connects them with other community members nearby.
The interface's live feed shows those members physically closest at the top. Users can share tips and supplies and offer each other help.
The Israeli-based startup was founded by Yishai Knobel and Shlomi Aflalo. Knobel is the former head of mobile health at AgaMatrix, the company that created iBGStar, an iPhone-connected glucose meter. The two partners say that as the health care industry seeks to cut costs and encourage preventative care, peer-to-peer support tools will be come more important. “Research has shown that peer support drives medical outcomes,” Knobel said during a recent interview at a conference in Orlando, Fla.
The app already has thousands of users around the world, most of whom are in the U.S. The company reported that at least a third of its members log on to the app every day. According to Knobel, some 90 percent of the questions posted are answered, and the average post generates four responses.
HelpAround has gotten favorable reviews from the diabetic community. In a recent blog post on Diabetes Mine, one reviewer cited the immediacy of the app's safety net feature. "Simply 'connecting' (people with diabetes) through social media or a phone app isn’t so novel – but in the end, the more peer-support tools we have available to us, the better!" he wrote.
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