Mobile Apps for Patients with Diabetes

The HHS Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) https://www.ahrq.gov has published the report “Mobile Health Applications for Self-Management of Diabetes” developed through the Evidence-based Practice Center (EPC) Program.

The report discussing the use of mobile phone apps for diabetes patients found that out of hundreds of commercially available apps, only eleven had been researched and only five were associated with clinically significant improvements in levels of blood sugar control as measured by hemoglobin A1C tests.

Researchers studied the effectiveness of 280 apps that may be used to support self-management of type 1 and type 2 diabetes. In addition to the five apps shown to improve levels of HbA1c, other apps were shown either to reduce episodes of blood sugar levels that were too high or too low, improve blood glucose levels, and help diabetics with self-care behaviors.

However, a report on the study reported that evidence is lacking as to whether apps used to help diabetics to self-manage will improve the quality of life of patients’ in terms of blood pressure or body mass index. An article based on AHRQ’s evidence review on this topic was published recently in the “Journal of General Internal Medicine” https://www.jgim.org.

“Diabetes patients rely on apps to manage their health so it is necessary to study these apps”, said AHRQ Director Gopal Khanna M.B.A. “Not only is the AHRQ report beneficial for diabetes patients but it is a call to action to the research community that we need more evidence on whether these apps and others actually improve health.”

“By the nature of how quickly mobile phone technology changes, the period of study for apps can be quite short as compared to the lifelong duration of diabetes,” reports study Author Stephanie Veazie associated with the Scientific Resource Center a part of the Portland VA Research Foundation https://www.pvarf.org at the VA Health Care System.

“The apps are only valuable if people can use them,” said Stephanie Change M.D. Director for AHRQ’s Evidence-based Practice Center Program. “Because apps are becoming part of everyday life, people should also be aware of who might be looking at their healthcare data and how it is being used.”

Go to https://efectivehealthcare.ahrq.gov/Topics/diabetes-mobile-devices/technical-brief to view the report “Mobile health applications for Self-Management of Diabetes”.

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