Online Tools and Apps to Help with daily diabetes management
Nov 7, 2011, 06:00 AM
Happy National Diabetes Education Week! I hope all of you diabetes educators are celebrating the work you do and are finding new ways to reach your patients!
For me, I love technology and enjoy finding new tools, websites, and apps to simplify my education with patients. Having an iPhone or smartphone opens up the world of apps that can be useful with diabetes education. Typically, I see patients individually through a public health department and most are low income and may not have internet access or smart phones. Though I have noticed in the past year more patients with smart phones since phone plans and pricing have come down, most of the time I am cautious with suggesting web resources and focus on handouts to supplement education.
For the next few months, I am excited about the opportunity to work with a new population at a small college with students who are 22-40 years old who embrace technology. I am working with a weight loss program and they have a variety of health challenges including diabetes. Several of them are using a website called http://www.myfitnesspal.com/. This is a FREE online food and exercise diary. You can also ‘friend’ (like Facebook) other people and add them to your network so you can lose weight together. The participants change their privacy settings to allow me to view their records and ‘check in’ with them. Best of all, there’s an app for it too! It works with several different operating systems.
Here is a screen shot of the MyFitnessPal app for iPhone:
If you use this with some of your diabetes patients, it also tracks individually calories, carbs, fat and protein and totals them up for the day.
I have also had patients use a a couple other services and have had great success:
CalorieKing - This is a paid service by the makers of my favorite calories, carbs, and fat tracker book. It is $64/yr and also offers a free trial. Some of the benefits to this one is that you have access to the amazing CalorieKing database for tracking your food and then it also allows you to produce graphs and charts of your intake if you have a patient who it into that or you just enjoy visually representing food diaries over time.
Weight Watchers - Over the years, the consistently the most successful organized national weight loss program (in my opinion) is Weight Watchers. I have had patients who just download the app on their phone and lose weight. For my diabetes patients, it even works well if they have a good understanding of still balancing their carbs throughout the day or using their insulin:carb ratio to keep their blood sugars consistent.
I would love to know what apps and websites you have found useful-particularly for food and exercise tracking. Even better is when your patients can send you their log or you can access it online for accountability between visits. Please share your experience with online tools and apps!