As a person who has had diabetes for 17 years, I am convinced that there is a way for people with this disease to live a happy and healthy life. However, we have to learn how to manage the disease in order to enjoy our time with family and friends. Supervision of diabetes might seem hard, but, luckily for us, we have advanced smartphone technologies at our disposal. There is plenty of different applications that help people with diabetes control the level of glucose in blood, set reminders for medication and doctor appointments or get information about healthy products. I will share my experience with two popular applications – Glucose Buddy and Mysugr – in this blog post.
I have always been searching for an application that is functional and does not require additional apps in order to be able to control diabetes. If you are searching for the same and you stumbled upon Glucose Buddy – you can keep searching further. This application certainly doesn’t live up to my expectations.
The first thing that catches the eye immediately after opening the main page is the poor interface of the program. It seems as if the developers of the app did not put any effort into its layout and design. It just looks bleak and boring. But nevertheless, I decided to give it a chance to prove itself as an effective tool in dealing with diabetes. After I have tested it, my worst fears were justified: The application was not of any use to me. I have encountered so many complications while using it, that I was really happy to delete it after testing. The most significant drawback was the inconvenience of data entry. I had to create an individual log for every product that I ate, for any kind of activity that I did and for every medication that I took (which may sound easy, but try spending the whole evening typing in every piece of bread you ate and you will understand me). I can’t even start explaining how hard it is to analyse all the data afterwards! After you are finished with creating thousands of new logs, you end up with a mixture of stuff showing what you did or ate throughout the day on one single log page without any order. You also don’t have an opportunity to edit the logs and the only possib ility to analyse the data is with graphs.
But the graphs are another sad story. First of all, the numbers on the graph are so small that it is impossible to see anything at all (considering that diabetics often have eye sight problems, this is something that is impossible to ignore). The option of zooming in and out is not available. Secondly, the graph does not show the exact time when I had high or low blood glucose levels. This information is kept on the log list, but only the information from the graph can be sent to the doctor. In that case, how can a doctor help you regulate your insulin dosage if he doesn’t even know when problems with hyper- or hypoglycemia occured? It would be more convenient to show the data with the time references because that helps patients and doctors understand how blood glucose functions during the day and help manage insulin dosage according to time.
If you like cute little monsters then you sure need to download Mysugr companion! But seriously, it is not only about the diabetes monster but about the program`s interface that I really enjoyed. I give this app 5 out of 5 points just because it doesn’t make me feel like a totally sick person when I am using it. The goal of the whole game is to tame the giggling diabetes monster by creating new logs for each day, filling out information about your diabetes measurements that you took throughout the day and receiving points for them.
The first positive thing I noticed was that when you enter a blood glucose level, it indicates if it is too high or too low by marking it with an appropriate colour, so I could immediately see that something is wrong with my glucose level. The coloring is also used in the chart, so I can define if I have problems with glucose throughout a day, a week or a whole month. In general, the application is very easy and entertaining to use.
It can be particularly helpful for children with diabetes type 1 because the app encourages them through different funny challenges to develop the habit of measuring blood glucose and learning how to take diabetes under control from the very early age.
A second useful characteristic that I have noticed was that you can take pictures of the meals, add them to a log and connect them with a specific location (which can be useful when you are going to a restaurant, for instance, and want to review later what you have eaten). This option is available free of charge for the first two weeks, later you have to go Pro for about 3 euros a month (which is a fair price for access to all the options that this app has to offer). The Pro version also has some extremely useful features, for example an insulin dosage calculator. It is very convenient for people who just got sick with diabetes and do not know yet how to calculate it correctly. I was genuinely amazed at how easy it was to use this application, how easy to enter and review the data, when you have all the information on one single page right in front of you. You can edit it as many times as you want and write down a detailed list of your activities and feelings that you can later review with your doctor. The application encourages you to type in every single detail, to plan every meal in advance, and that is exactly what helps bring diabetes under control: self discipline.
I reviewed two applications that aim to provide the essentials for diabetics. As you can see, they show different levels of usability. After testing Glucose Buddy for eight days, I came to realisation that my blood glucose levels were not better controlled than before I started to use the application. This fact proved the point that the application is ineffective in managing diabetes due to its failure to provide users with a convenient interface and with the good data analyses. Mysugr, on the contrary, has plenty of helpful options, is nice to use and it can easily fulfil its task as a diabetes helper. I am convinced that Mysugr can help diabetics improve the quality of their lives significantly.
Evgeniya Jung, a digital nomad, studied at the department of International Relations in Russia. She moved to Switzerland two years ago and since then she has been travelling and working on improvement of her German skills. She has particular interest in digital healthcare due to having Type 1 Diabetes, which gained her vast experience with the health care systems in different countries.