Researchers at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) in Massachusetts recently received a $1.2 million grant from the National Science Foundation to develop a smartphone diabetes app.

This app will guide patients with diabetes as well as foot ulcers on how to manage their disease.

The 4 year project will include diabetes and wound care specialists from the University of Massachusetts Medical School in addition to the WPI researchers. The app will have the ability to connect wirelessly to a glucose meter and scale that patients can use to monitor and track their blood sugar levels and weight. The app will also take advantage of the ubiquitous nature of smartphone cameras in order to capture and analyze images of foot ulcers.

According to the American Diabetes Association’s recent figures, around 70,000 people with diabetes have lower-limb amputations yearly and nearly 80 percent of foot and leg amputations in patients with diabetes are complications from foot ulcers.

“The app will generate tailored messages for users based on their weight and blood sugar levels. It also will track the progression of foot ulcers to help users determine whether to visit a doctor.”

The app messages generated will have embedded data and algorithms drawn from clinical experience.

The imedicalapps team has previously reported on diabetes apps and startups that have the potential to shift the paradigm in diabetes management.  Ginger.io, a startup, is transforming a mobile phone into an automatic self-monitoring tool for tracking real-time movement patterns and social interactions passively–without user input.

Additionally, iBGStar, a device manufacturer, has received FDA 510(k) clearance, for its device that enables users to check their blood glucose and have the results transferred into an associated Diabetes Manager App.  The app being designed by WPI will give consumers an additional choice for controlling their disease.

An assistant professor at WPI’s School of Business and a leader of the project, Bengisu Tulu, explains the potential of the app being developed.

“The application will provide relevant, personalized feedback for the patient that encourages them to make good decisions. The reality is that nearly all the management of a person’s diabetes is done by the patient, away from a doctor’s office or clinic. So we envision this new application as a way to help these patients achieve better outcomes”

The first two years of the project are for technology research and development, leading up to a  prototype. If the development phase proceeds as planned, the second two years of the project will test the new application in a clinical trial at UMass Medical School.

Source: Worchester Polytechnic Institue