The most popular mobile apps for type 2 diabetes and diabetes management are mostly scored as excellent for functionality and aesthetics, but few address important diabetes management tasks, such as physical activity, nutrition, blood glucose testing, medication or insulin dosing, health feedback and education, according to study findings.
François Modave, PhD, of the department of health outcomes and policy in the College of Medicine at the University of Florida in Gainesville, and colleagues selected 89 of the top mobile apps in June 2016 listed under the search terms “diabetes” and “diabetes management” from iTunes and Google Play to determine whether the popular tools could complement clinical care.
Researchers evaluated the apps using the Mobile App Rating Scale (MARS), which assessed the quality of the apps for type 2 diabetes management, and they also measured the number of diabetes-specific tasks each app addressed. MARS evaluated engagement, functionality, aesthetics and information to calculate a total quality score for a maximum possible value of 5. A metric to score diabetes-management tasks was added to the analysis to include physical activity, nutrition, blood glucose testing, medication or insulin dosing, health feedback and education for a maximum possible value of 6.
Ten apps were scored as excellent for functionality and aesthetics and moderate for engagement of information subscales. All of the apps were rated as having high functionality, aesthetics and engagement scores, whereas information, total quality and subjective scores were suboptimal. Only four of the apps integrated all six diabetes management tasks, and fewer than half integrated at least four.
“When selecting an app for the management of a chronic condition, such as diabetes, look at the scientific evidence and whether the app is based on current clinical guidelines,” Modave told Endocrine Today. “Current apps may not meet the key guidelines for the self-management of type 2 diabetes, and thus may fall short to be recommended in clinical settings. Future research should ensure that app developers pay attention to clinical guidelines, but also other aspects such as privacy.” – by Amber Cox
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François Modave, PhD, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Disclosures: The authors report no relevant financial disclosures.