Singaporean researchers have found that only three out of 24
'best' apps had all five essential diabetes management
A new study by Singaporean researchers, reported in Singapore's
The Straits Times, has urged people to be mindful when using apps,
as not all have features that enable comprehensive diabetes
Putting themselves in the shoes of a patient who would turn to
the internet for information, researchers from the Lee Kong Chian
School of Medicine at Nanyang Technological University (NTU)
googled "best diabetes apps 2017" and looked at 24 that topped
Despite being listed as some of the "best" or "most popular"
diabetes apps, only three had all five essential diabetes
management functions - for medication, blood glucose level,
physical activity, diet and weight, according to Associate
Professor Josip Car, a senior author of the study.
These aspects of diabetes management are based on guidelines by
the American Diabetes Association and the United Kingdom's National
Institute for Health and Care Excellence.
The most common feature was a nutrition or diet function (found
in 79 per cent of the apps), followed by blood glucose management
(67 per cent), physical activity tracking (58 per cent) and weight
tracking (33 per cent).
Less than half of the apps (46 per cent) had medication
management features like those that track insulin use or calculate
the insulin dose.
Getting people to improve any of these aspects is helpful,
according to Prof Car, director of the Lee Kong Chian School of
Medicine's Centre for Population Health Sciences.
But the problem arises when people are misled into thinking that
just a few of these functions are enough when controlling diabetes
needs an all-round approach.
It is symptomatic of a larger issue that plagues the more than
325,000 health apps in the market - many are developed without
input from healthcare professionals.
This is down to two main reasons - to reduce app development
costs and the time it takes to get these apps on the market, as
those that offer medical advice will fall under regulations for
The fact that many of these apps are targeted at diabetes is
because it is a major global health issue, and the main part of
diabetes management is lifestyle, which involves things a person
can change himself.
"There is very little evidence on the effectiveness of these
apps for people with diabetes," said Prof Car, who is a family
"To the best of our knowledge, not a single app in the world is
formally recommended by any diabetes society."
The study was conducted from April to August, and published in
September in the Journal Of Medical Internet Research mHealth
It is part of a larger, ongoing study to evaluate the quality of
diabetes apps, which started in December last year.