iPads and iPhones can be used to manage diabetes


Pharmacists can empower patients to self-manage their chronic disease using apps

A pilot program led by the University of Canberra has found iPads and other mobile devices can help people with Type 2 diabetes manage their condition.

Twenty-eight patients were invited to use iPads to help manage their diabetes over 10 months.

Generic apps covering blood glucose, exercise, diabetes information, diet and community were installed onto the supplied devices. Participants were also offered digital training to learn to use the iPads and apps.

Results were positive: after nine months, 61% said they felt they experienced an improvement in their disease and gained confidence through participation in the study.

In addition, 75% of participants said they gained more confidence with food choices, particularly because of the portability of the iPad when making food choices.

About 32% experienced an increase in satisfaction of exercise plans.

Digital training improved participants’ skills significantly, with 90% using their iPads more than once a day after seven months.

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The top uses of the iPad for diabetes management were for participants to regularly monitor themselves, access resources, and to use as an aid to change lifestyle.

Age was not a significant barrier to using the digital tools, with 82% of participants 50 years or older.

Lead researcher Dr Sora Park, Associate Professor in Communications at the University of Canberra says pharmacists can suggest apps as a tool for self-management to their patients.

“A lot of patients would visit their GPs at two-to-three month intervals, and in the meantime visit their pharmacists. This kind of access to chronic disease patients is a great opportunity to suggest our type of program,” she says.

“Anyone can start the program as it was based on generic apps. Participants mostly chose their own,” says Dr Park.

“We also found having several apps worked better than one super app.”

The research team is hoping to conduct further trials on a larger scale, in order to reach rural patients and those with less access to the healthcare system.

Diabetes Australia estimates around 1.7 million Australians have diabetes, with 280 Australians developing the chronic condition every day.

Type 2 diabetes accounts for approximately 90% of all diabetes diagnoses.

Simple lifestyle changes such as maintaining an optimal body weight, engaging in physical activity, and adopting a healthy diet are essential to the management of Type 2 diabetes.

See the summary report here.

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