Purpose of App Review

  • to evaluate the ease of calculating insulin doses
  • to explore the robustness of user-editable features

Introduction

The pancreas is an amazing organ and it needs no calculator. However, when the pancreas stops working and the conscious brain must take over, the insulin-glucose relationship become more complicated. Everybody responds differently to insulin, with those on long-term insulin requiring more compared to insulin-naive bodies. The Insulin Units medical app aims to provide an editable app to make calculating insulin for meal coverage less of a guessing game.

User Interface

Except for the Help section, the app’s main pages are identical upon first use of the app. The app opens up to the default screen for All Meals.

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The All Meals section is intended for diabetics whose correction factor and carbohydrate factor are the same for each meal. If that’s you, then this is the only screen you need to use.

In order to calculate the recommended insulin dose, the app requires several inputs. The blood sugar goals, correction factor, and carbohydrate factor should be available from your healthcare provider. The pre-meal blood sugar and meal carbohydrates are user-obtained.

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The app includes a default blood sugar goal, correction factor, and carbohydrate factor. To change these, click on Edit. The grayed numbers then change to blue, indicating that you can edit. When you are happy with what has been entered, tap the Save radio button.

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With your goals and factors in place, you only have to enter your blood sugar level pre-meal and the grams of carbohydrates to be consumed in the ensuing meal. Once those are entered, simply press calculate and the bottom of the app indicates the recommended insulin amount in actual/calculated units and in rounded units.

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Let’s say that your correction factor and carbohydrate factor are different for different meals. Instead of having to erase your data from the All Meals section to calculate the dinner dose, you can select the dinner section of the app and input your digits.

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This can be done for any meal and separate screens are provided for Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner.

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For those wanting more information on how the app calculates insulin doses and how to use the app, the Help section provides useful, but brief and simple guidance.

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Price

  • $0.99

Likes

  • provides explanation on how the calculations are made
  • allows for calculation of all meals, together or separately
  • ability to edit blood sugar goals, correction factor, and carbohydrate factor

Dislikes

  • no ability to save favorite settings if app used for multiple people
  • does not save blood glucose levels
  • no clear data function
  • does not specify in the app that the calculations should only be used for rapid insulin doses (although this should be implied)
  • no references provided in app for calculations (this is a big deal…see conclusion section)

Healthcare providers that would benefit from the app

  • Providers working with diabetics that need to calculate appropriate insulin doses for individual patients

Patients that may benefit from app

  • Patients with diabetes or who are caring for others with diabetes that need help with calculating insulin doses to be used for meal coverage.

Conclusion

  • The Insulin Units medical app provides a user-editable and easy to use app to calculate short-acting insulin doses. The app is simple and less tech driven compared to other apps, but provides a straightforward way to calculate just how much insulin is needed to better reach blood glucose control goals. As of publish date, app is not available on the Android platform.

References for calculation formulas

Major caveats

  • This app is not provided or designed by medical board, medical agency, pharmaceutical company.
  • An individual designed this app.
  • The calculations used in the app are available on the internet from trusted resources and are calculations routinely safely used.
  • However, miscalculation of insulin (especially over-calculation) is potentially life-threatening. Insulin dosing is a serious undertaking.
  • You should ONLY use this app if you have used it with your physician and your physician feels comfortable with you using the app.

iTunes Link

Rating: 3.5/5
1. User Interface – 4.  Simple screen setup.  Easy data entry with ability to edit.
2. Multimedia usage – 2. Very simplified interface – uses one window that changes the label on the bottom.  Smooth transitions when calculating.
3. Price – 4.  $0.99 is pretty inexpensive, even for a simple app
4. Real world applicability – 4.  Potential use multiple times per day depending on who and how app is being used.

App version: 1.2
Compatibility: iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, iPhone 4S, iPhone 5, iPod touch (3rd, 4th, 5th generations), iPad.  optimized for iPhone 5
Requires: iOS 5.1 or later
Tested on: iPhone 4S

Editor’s Note:
It must be noted that this app is a great demonstration of the ability to create medical apps to help practitioners and patients by individuals with an interest in the medical field. However, as the author noted, care must be taken when utilizing any application in care. While this app uses formulas and equations, as mentioned, it does not substitute a practitioners insight into the disease and individual patient. In the end, all apps can only play an adjunctive role winthin clinical care, and will not have the final say in a patient case alone.

Disclaimer:
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 healthcare provider. It does not provide the definitive statement on the subject addressed. Before using these apps please consult with your own physician or healthcare 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 healthcare provider.