Health Internet Technology for Chronic Conditions: Review of Diabetes Management Apps
Information Systems and Security
BACKGROUND: Mobile health (mHealth) smartphone apps have shown promise in the self-management of chronic disease. In today's oversaturated health app market, selection criteria that consumers are employing to choose mHealth apps for disease self-management are of paramount importance. App quality is critical in monitoring disease controls but is often linked to consumer popularity rather than clinical recommendations of effectiveness in disease management. Management of key disease variances can be performed through these apps to increase patient engagement in disease self-management. This paper provides a comprehensive review of features found in mHealth apps frequently used in the self- management of diabetes. OBJECTIVE: The purpose of this study was to review features of frequently used and high consumer-rated mHealth apps used in the self-management of diabetes. This study aimed to highlight key features of consumer-favored mHealth apps used in the self-management of diabetes. METHODS: A 2-fold approach was adopted involving the Apple iOS store and the Google search engine. The primary search was conducted on the Apple iOS store using the term "diabetes apps" (device used: Apple iPad). The top 5 most frequently used mHealth apps were identified and rated by the number of consumer reviews, app ratings, and the presence of key diabetes management features, such as dietary blood glucose, A, insulin, physical activity, and prescription medication. A subsequent Google search was conducted using the search term "best Apple diabetes apps." The top 3 search results-"Healthline," "Everyday Health," and "Diabetes Apps-American Diabetes Association"-were explored. RESULTS: In total, 12 mHealth apps were reviewed due to their appearing across 4 evaluated sources. Only 1 health app-Glucose Buddy Diabetes Tracker-appeared as the most frequently used within the Apple iOS store and across the other 3 sources. The OneTouch Reveal app ranked first on the list in the iOS store with 39,000 consumer reviews and a rating of 4.7 out of 5.0 stars but only appeared in 1 of the other 3 sources. Blood glucose tracking was present across all apps, but other disease management features varied in type with at least 3 of the 5 key features being present across the 12 reviewed apps. Subscription cost and integration needs were present in the apps which could impact consumers' decision to select apps. Although mobile app preference was assessed and defined by the number of consumer reviews and star ratings, there were no scientific standards used in the selection and ranking of the health apps within this study. CONCLUSIONS: mHealth apps have shown promise in chronic disease management, but a surge in development of these nonregulated health solutions points to a need for regulation, standardization, and quality control. A governing body of health IT professionals, clinicians, policymakers, payors, and patients could be beneficial in defining health app standards for effective chronic disease management. Variabilities in features, cost, and other aspects of management could be reduced by regulatory uniformity, which would increase patient engagement and improve disease outcomes.
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