Mobile phone technology may improve type 2 diabetes treatments

Using mobile phone technology could lead to significant improvements in the ability of individuals with type 2 diabetes to control their blood sugar and other aspects of their condition, according to a new study out of the University of Maryland.

Mobile technologies are increasingly being used to help people with conditions like diabetes track the symptoms of their condition and make improvements in their self-care. However, this new investigation is among the first to assess the efficacy of these types of approaches, something that will be important in the years ahead as treatments increasingly move to this type of system.

For the study, researchers gave a group of 163 participants with type 2 diabetes either standard care or primary care physician services augmented by a mobile phone application designed to help them track their blood sugar readings. This program also gave participants advice if their scores were in unhealthy levels.

The researchers reported in the journal Diabetes Care that those who were given the mobile phone application had much healthier test scores at the conclusion of the one-year study. This group averaged 1.9 percent lower HbA1c test scores, which are considered one of the leading indicators of long-term blood sugar control.

With the help of findings like these, the researchers said they believe mobile health technologies could come to play important roles in the treatment of chronic diseases like type 2 diabetes.

"Mobile health has the potential to help patients better self-manage any chronic disease, not just diabetes," said Charlene Quinn, PhD, the leader of the investigation. "The U.S. Food & Drug Administration just last month released draft guidance on how it intends to regulate the field. Our results can help define the science behind this new strategy for disease management."

Smartphone use is growing by leaps and bounds in the U.S. Leveraging this accessible technology to improve the care of people with complicated conditions like type 2 diabetes could mark a major improvement in the average patient’s ability to care for themselves.