Review of Diabetes Self-Management Mobile Applications

May 8, 2018. Users of mobile applications (apps) for diabetes self-management need better information regarding which apps actually improve diabetes-related outcomes. To help clarify this issue, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) conducted a rapid evidence review of 15 studies evaluating diabetes apps. Of the hundreds of commercially available apps, the AHRQ found that only 11 (6 for type 1 diabetes and 5 for type 2 diabetes) have been researched, and that in all cases these studies lasted <1 year. Common features among these apps included reminder settings and tracking A1C and blood glucose, physical activity, medication use, and weight. When paired with support from study staff or a health care provider, only 5 apps were associated with clinically significant improvements in A1C. Regardless of diabetes type or which app was used, patients did not show clinically significant improvements in blood pressure, quality of life, or weight. Usability testing of 8 available apps yielded 2 scores of “acceptable,” 3 “marginal,” and 3 “not acceptable.” These results show that only a handful of commercially available apps have helped improve blood glucose in the short-term, with more research needed to identify long-term benefits. You can read the study press release here and the abstract here.