Improving Glycemic Control with Diabetes App Features

A review of data presented at ATTD 2022 dissects what features within smartphone applications created to improve diabetes management actually contribute to improved glycemic control.

The rapid integration of continuous glucose monitoring technologies has brought forth a wave of innovation within these technologies. Among the most recent additions to the equation has been smartphone applications to optimize the use of CGM technologies in patients with diabetes.

As the market for CGM devices becomes more and more competitive, manufacturers have sought to one-up each other by providing users with cutting-edge technologies and features, such as smartphonehave applications, with their CGM. Now, a study presented at the 15th International Conference on Advanced Technologies and Treatments for Diabetes (ATTD) is offering insight into what features within a diabetes smartphone application were associated with improvements in glycemic control and what ones do not provide benefit.

“The aim of the project presented in the poster was to explore the effects of specific features in apps for people with type 2 diabetes on glycemic control, though diabetes application have the potential to support glycemic control in type 2 diabetes, there's a lack of evidence regarding to the effect of the individual features of the apps in regards to glycemic control,” said study presenter Julie Egmose, MSc, of Aalborg University, during her presentation at ATTD 2022.

Although companies have focused on making their CGM devices and product offerings the most appealing in the marketplace, Egmose and colleagues from Aalborg University designed the present study to fill current gaps in knowledge related to what features might provide the most benefit in terms of improving glycemic control. With this in mind, investigators designed their study as a review data from the PubMed, EMBASE, and CINAHL databases.

From a systematic search of literature in these databases, investigators identified 437 total records for potential inclusion in their study. After exclusion of duplicates and application of inclusion criteria, a total of 13 full-text articles were assessed for eligibility and 7 were ultimately included in the investigators’ analysis. Inclusion criteria for the study required studies to enroll patients with type 2 diabetes, assess features in diabetes mellitus management apps, and assess blood sugar as an outcome of interest. Additionally, these studies were required to have been published in English, Danish, Swedish, or Norwegian. Articles were excluded if results were not divided according to type of diabetes and if the features in the apps were not divided into the results.

From the 7 studies identified for inclusion, a total of 5 app features were identified. These included feedback mechanisms, a glucose-monitoring and feedback system, gamification, biofeedback-assisted relaxation, and diabetes education. Of note, multiple feedback mechanisms were assessed, including an insulin titration algorithm with immediate feedback mechanism and feedback from health professionals.

Upon analysis, results of the investigators’ analyses suggested only 3 of the features assessed were associated with significant improvements in glycemic c control. These features were the monitoring and feedback-system, gamification, and diabetes education.

“Overall, it seems that diabetes app should contain an educational feature gamification, and a feature for sharing data with healthcare professionals to improve glycemic control. However, more evidence is needed to determine the effect of individual features in diabetes apps,” Egmose added, during the latter portions of her presentation at ATTD 2022.

This study, “Which Diabetes App Features Improve Glycemic Control in Type 2 Diabetes? A Scoping Revie,” was presented at ATTD 2022.

This article originally appeared on Endocrinology Network.