As a doctor, I have a keen interest in mHealth – because in this age of smartphones and always-on connectivity, we have new ways to reach out to people in order to influence their lifestyle habits and choices, channels that we never had before 10 years ago. I’ll be reviewing a series of innovative diabetes apps that have piqued my interest, and I’ll share with you my unbiased opinions on each of them, from my perspective as a medical professional.
Review of mySugr diabetes app
Over the last few months, I have tried out several logger apps for diabetes. The mySugr Logger is one of the most comprehensive ones out there, and get a full thumbs up from me.
mySugr is a company based out of Austria and focused on the Europe market. They have created a series of apps that help diabetics in their self-management, including:
Logger : to enter, search and find data
Importer : Sync and import data from your glucometer. (This is only available in Austria)
Analysis : Visualizations of your diabetes status and trends (Web only)
Junior : focused on children with Type 1 Diabetes
Quiz : Test your knowledge of the disease.
These apps are mostly free to use, with a Pro version for a small subscription fee. It supports web and mobile, so you can download the app on your mobile phone (both iOs and Android supported) to get started, or use it on your computer.
I tried out the Logger app, and the first thing that really strikes me as different from other apps out is the fun-looking graphical interface that doesn’t feel clinical or make me feel like I’m suffering from a chronic disease. The colour scheme is fun, and looks more like a game (eg one of those quiz apps like QuizMe) rather than a disease monitoring app.
As with other logging apps, you can input your blood glucose easily and it charts your results. It takes a while to get used to the interface because it’s pretty busy and there’s a lot going on, but once you understand what the different icons mean, it’s pretty intuitive. The different data points are colour coded, which makes it easy to recognise what you’re looking at after a period of time.
All of the basic functionality you’d expect with a diabetes app is there:
- Historical trends of your blood glucose over 24 hours, 7 days, monthly
- Number of hypers/hypos
- Insulin bolus tracker
- Carbohydrates counter
You earn points for various actions, such as marking your location, measuring your blood glucose, describing your meal. It’s interesting, but it’s not immediately apparent what these points are for. I’m a believer that gamification can increase user engagement in this digital age, but it should be purposeful.
The coolest feature in mySugr that makes it stand out among other diabetes apps is the ‘Community Challenges‘. Basically, these are simple tasks that you can complete to earn badges and rewards such as 7 day access to their Pro features. Some of the challenges that I have include:
- Endurance : Testing your glucose once a day for 7 days in a row, or
- Walk for a Cure : Log at least 30 minutes of activity within the next 24 hours.
- Early bird : Log your fasting blood sugar
- Walk the Line : Log 10 minutes of activity.
Most of these starting challenges are easy to do. But completing each challenge opens up more difficult challenges for you. And these are not frivolous tasks – they are simple things you can do to keep your diabetes in control. By making these positive habits fun to do, mySugr hopes to get more people to start taking the right steps to manage their diabetes well – one small step at a time. One potential issue is that you can easily ‘fake-complete’ the challenges, without actually having to do them. For example, you can manually input false blood sugar readings. I doubt many people will do this – because the rewards are not large and most people using this app actually want to keep their diabetes in control.
While most of the features in mySugr are free, there is a mySugr Pro version which costs $2.99 per month. The Pro version gives you features including :
- Export data into PDF/Excel reports
- Access to all challenges
- Reminders on when to check your sugars
- Synchronization between multiple devices (iOS and Android)
- No advertising
If you are looking to try the Pro version without having to pay to see if it’s worth it (like it), you can complete the GoPro challenge to get 7 days access – by using the app for 7 consecutive games. It gives you some motivation to try the app out, to see if it works for you. Price-wise : I was expecting something closer to $10/month, but it’s definitely affordable for anyone who owns a smartphone.
Overall, my opinion is that mySugr is one of the better diabetes apps out there currently – I can tell that the team has put a lot of effort and thought into designing the user interface and user experience. Although focused in Europe, you can still use the app in Singapore (remember to change the glucose units from mg/dl to mmol/l or you’ll be confused).
+ Comprehensive mobile app with logging for the diabetes ‘trinity’ of glucose, carbohydrates and exercise
+ Challenges are a fun way to develop good habits
+ Pleasant, non-clinical looking design
– Highly graphical interface takes a while to get used to
– Requires a minimal monthly subscription fee ($2.99) to unlock all features and challenges.
Note : I have no relation to mySugr, or their founding team at time of writing.
If you’ve used mySugr before, I’d love to hear your comments – What did you like or dislike about it?