Patient Centric App Review Series
App Reviewed: Glucose Buddy 3.6.5
Goals of app review:
- To determine whether Glucose Buddy has the applicability to be utilized by diabetic patients for recording their glucose levels (eg. SMBG’s), meals, and medication usage.
- To evaluate the possible integration of Glucose Buddy into diabetes management for patients
Diabetes is a chronic disease that requires close management by healthcare professionals in conjunction with patients. One key step for managing diabetes is measuring patients self-monitored blood glucose (SMBG) levels at home.
Currently only one app/device exists that can measure and record SMBGs. As such, most apps rely on patients entering the data into mobile applications manually.
Glucose Buddy is a diabetes monitoring tool developed by Tom Xu, a graduate from University of California Berkeley with a B.S. in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. He is responsible for overseeing all interface usability and technical aspects of Glucose Buddy’s development.
Glucose Buddy is supported by SkyHealth LLC, which also supports other lifestyle modulation apps. These include Fitness Buddy and BP Buddy.
Last Updated: May 7, 2011
Compatibility: iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch
Requires: iOS 3.0 or later
Reviewed on: iPhone 4G
The app opens onto a simple user interface screen that displays several options. These include areas to add logs for SMBG, medications, diet, reminders, and user’s info.
The ‘My Info’ option allows the user to input their personal information. Included are options to record what type of BP cuff they are using and what SMBG monitoring device (eg. Bayer Breeze). There is also a display for the total average blood glucose per total data recorded.
Data can be input into the ‘Add Log’ option. Here, the user may input their SMBG and include the date and time of recording. In addition, there is a menu for the user to record SMBGs related to activities during the day (e.g. before breakfast, after lunch). Users may also include what they have eaten, medications utilized, and any exercise undertaken at the time of the recording.
After a user inputs their data, they can review the results on the ‘Logs’ and ‘Graph’ options. These screens allow the user to view all data entered (e.g. BG levels, calorie intake). The graph displays the trends over the course of data entered, allowing the user and caregiver to visualize BG levels. This data can then be emailed via the app to the patient’s provider for up-to-date BG control.
The graph only displays the trends of High, Average, and Low BG levels. It does not display the time of BG levels and when low or high levels were noted. This data is only available in the log option, which cannot be emailed or sent to providers. In order to graph BP, HR, and weight, an in-app purchase must be made.
Lastly, the app has the ability to display reminders with push notifications on when to retest SMBG after previous recordings.
Glucose Buddy seeks to address the information gap between patients’ home monitoring of their diabetes and communication with their healthcare provider. It allows for the visual understanding of trends in a diabetic patient’s BG levels throughout the day, along with a diary of diet, medication, and exercise habits.
Evidence to Support Goals:
The measurement of SMBG is a common practice of evaluating patients’ BG control at home, especially when on insulin. This helps a provider to determine opportunities to adjust insulin and reduce adverse drug events (i.e. hypoglycemia); however, a common issue is communication of SMBG between patient and caregiver.
The Mobile Diabetes Intervention Study evaluated the utilization of a mobile diabetes management tool’s effect on diabetic patients’ glycated hemoglobin levels (A1c) over a 1-year period . Results demonstrated that patients enrolled in the intervention group had a reduction in A1c by 1.9%, compared with 0.7% for the control group, a difference of 1.2% (P < 0.001) over 12 months .
Additional studies have evaluated the integration of mobile devices into direct diabetes management and care [2-4]. A review by Russell-Minda E, et al. noted that electronic SMBGs allow for easier communication between patients and prescribers about diabetes management . A pattern analysis conducted by Parkin CG, et al. demonstrated that the utilization of SMBGs allows healthcare providers to identify issues in diabetes management and make rational therapeutic adjustments based on objective data .
However, the limitations facing the utilization of diabetes monitoring apps are the reliance on patients inputting data manually, which may reduce adherence, as noted by Ciemins E, et al . It must be noted that further studies are needed to determine the use of applications to reduce microvascular and macrovascular complications of diabetes [2, 4].
Lastly, a recent review conducted via iMedicalApps evaluated the use of Diabetes Buddy in managing patients with Adult Type 1 Diabetes. The study investigated the utilization of the application as an adjunctive tool to help manage diabetes. Results demonstrated that there was a significant decrease in A1c in the intervention group over the control group who did not use the app .
- Free – Displays ads intermittently amongst the screen
- $3.99 – BP and Weight Add-On
- $3.99 – Remove Ads Add-On
- $12.99 – Multi-device Cross Connectivity
- On-line support to help monitor diabetes with multiple device-sync option
- Data can be displayed visually and sent to provider
- Free version has bare necessities to function as a diabetes monitoring tool
- Data input cannot be edited after saving and requires deletion and re-entering
- Ads can be annoying and limit screen view
- Display of data could be refined to show transition of BG throughout the day by time (e.g. before breakfast, before lunch), in order to visualize trends, and not by high-average-low display, which does not help to understand BG trends
- Does not display BG averages by time of day, only overall BG averages
- Data must be emailed separately with no direct in-app support
What type of provider would benefit from this app?
- Primary Care Physician
- Diabetes Clinic
What type of patient would benefit from this app?
- Patients that require close monitoring of BG
- Patients with type 1 or 2 diabetes
- Patients on insulin with high incidences of hypoglycemia
- Patients that can enter their personal data manually on a daily basis
- Glucose Buddy is an application that seeks to address the issue of communication between patients’ daily maintenance of their diabetes and their healthcare providers
- Pros – Glucose Buddy is a good tool with a basic free option that is available to address the need to record SMBGs and display them for providers
- Cons – current form of data visualization does not demonstrate an easy ability to understand patients’ SMBG trends based upon time of monitoring and can only visualize patients’ range of values on a set day
Integration of this app with patients’ BG monitoring may be beneficial for patients who are tech savvy, can record their data on a daily basis, and are facing difficult BG control that needs to be monitored carefully. However, the app does not support a direct means of communicating patient results with their providers and may hinder provider-patient communication.
1. Quinn CC, Shardell MD, Terrin ML, Barr EA, et al. Cluster-randomized trial of a mobile phone personalized behavioral intervention for blood glucose control. Diabetes Care. 2011 Sep;34(9):1934-42.
2. Russell-Minda E, Jutai J, SPeechley M, Bradley K, et al. Health Technologies for Monitoring and Managing Diabetes: A Systematic Review. J Diabetes Sci Technol. 2009 Nov 1;3(6):1460-71
3. Parkin CG, Davidson JA. Value of Self-Monitoring Blood Glucose Pattern Analysis in Improving Diabetes Outcomes. J Diabetes Sci Technol. 2009 May 1;3(3):500-8.
4. Ciemins E, Coon P, Sorli C. An Analysis of Data Management Tools for Diabetes Self-Management: Can Smart Phone Technology Keep Up? J Diabetes Sci Technol. 2010 Jul 1;4(4):958-60.
5. iMedicalApps Team. Randomized controlled study shows mobile app includes glucose control in type 1 diabetes. imedicalapps. http://www.imedicalapps.com/2012/06/randomized-controlled-study-shows-mobile-app-improves-glucose-control-type-1-diabetics/. Published June 26, 2012. Accessed July 7, 2012.
This post does not establish, nor is it intended to establish, a patient physician relationship with anyone. It does not substitute for professional advice, and does not substitute for an in-person evaluation with your health care provider. It does not provide the definitive statement on the subject addressed. Before using these apps please consult with your own physician or health care provider as to the apps validity and accuracy as this post is not intended to affirm the validity or accuracy of the apps in question. The app(s) mentioned in this post should not be used without discussing the app first with your health care provider.