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Diabetes app trial could forecast relief for patients

A diabetes app that automatically dispenses insulin to users returned positive results after a trial run. Will it lead to more apps being used to manage chronically ill patients?

The gradual buildup of mobile device usage in healthcare could soon transition mobile devices to serve a greater role in the treatment of patients with chronic conditions. Since the introduction of mobile devices and applications in healthcare, their effectiveness has been tested during the care of diverse patient groups. An example of one of these patient trials was recently published in the New England Journal of Medicine. The research concluded that an iPhone app -- connected to a wireless glucose monitoring system -- can be set to release the right levels of insulin to patients. Mobile devices, the authors said, have something to offer to those managing chronic conditions.

Diabetic patients are faced with the task of constantly monitoring their blood sugar levels. They must take routine tests and adjust their lifestyle to avoid any serious complications due to the disease. Those with Type 1 diabetes are at even greater risk of hypoglycemia, which can kill if not monitored carefully. The introduction of the mobile diabetes app -- which has yet to earn FDA clearance -- has shown to be effective for a number of patients in the early testing stages.

The app works by releasing the appropriate amount of hormones based on readings of the patient's blood sugar levels. While the app can function independently without user interaction, it can be manually overridden.

Turning a mobile device into an artificial pancreas is an amazing accomplishment.

This use of mobile health (mHealth) is a step forward for the more than 80 patients diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes every day. Though this diabetes app is not yet available for download, it could present another choice for patients looking for a less complicated way to manage their disease.

Turning a mobile device into an artificial pancreas is an amazing accomplishment. As more of these mHealth apps are created and released, app developers will also take on the greater responsibility of ensuring the safety of people that use and trust their products. There must be protection in place to combat security threats and promote device stability before more of these chronic-management apps find their way into the hands of patients.

About the author:
Reda Chouffani is vice president of development at Biz Technology Solutions Inc., which provides software design, development and deployment services for the healthcare industry. Let us know what you think about the story; email or contact @SearchHealthIT on Twitter.

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