Advances in healthcare technology and IT have made chronic illness management easier and more convenient for people with conditions like diabetes. Now, your phone can give you access to healthcare professionals and your treatment plans from the comfort of your own home. You can even use your phone for symptom and medication management.

It’s important to talk with your primary health care provider as you set these things up, so you can make sure any technology you’re using is in line with your recommended health plan.

The first step in making your phone your main hub for diabetes management is investing in the right technology. This includes hardware and software. You want your phone, as well as your network, to be reliable no matter where you are. This way, you’re never cut off from the tools you need.

This guide is designed to help people with diabetes outfit their personal devices with everything they need to manage their condition, as well as their general health, right from their phone.

Using your phone to manage your diabetes

There are several ways that you can use your phone to manage your diabetes. Regardless of what type of diabetes you have, there are apps and devices specifically designed to make tracking and maintaining your diabetes easier.

Mobile health hardware

While your phone cannot substitute for diabetic mobile health (mHealth) hardware, such as insulin delivery tools, it can act as a monitoring tool. Insulin delivery systems can be integrated with smartphones to monitor and track the user's condition, as well as allow more control over insulin pump therapy.

Before investing in any pumps, you should speak with your healthcare provider to see if this equipment is right for you. You will also want to ensure that the pump is compatible with your phone’s operating system. For instance, Insulet specifically collaborated with Samsung, whereas Dario is compatible with Apple iPhones.

Being able to monitor and control your pump from your phone can streamline the number of devices you need to carry. Since phones are such a huge part of modern life, chances are you’re less likely to forget to take them with you somewhere or forget to have them charged. These are just a few of the reasons why some people with diabetes are finding smartphone-controlled pumps appealing.

Diabetic mobile apps

mHealth apps allow you to control smartphone-compatible pumps, as well as monitor things like blood sugar and log symptoms. These can make managing diabetes, as well as any other comorbidities, much easier by condensing them all into one place.

Other general health and wellness apps are also useful when you’re counting calories, monitoring carbs or recording physical activity. Many phones come with a fitness app already installed, but there are several available for free on your compatible app store.

Fitness devices

Wearable fitness devices, such as smartwatches, are also a great choice when you’re monitoring your general health. These devices can be tailored to your needs, which is especially helpful for coping with a chronic illness like diabetes.

These devices can typically be synced with your phone, making the data available no matter where you are. Being able to see how each different health metric fits together will give you a clearer picture of your overall health and help you take a more holistic approach to health and wellness management, instead of just targeting symptoms as they arise.

Using your phone to manage your diet and medication

Your phone can also be useful in tracking your diet and medication, which is a critical part of managing diabetes. These apps make everyday living with diabetes simpler and easier, as they can act as an easy referral tool.

You can also use physical tools to help track your medications, such as e-pill timer caps.

Diet is a huge part of managing diabetes, as getting too much or too little of certain foods can create issues. This is why many individuals with diabetes find it helpful to track their food intake.

Choosing between having separate apps for separate functions or investing in an app that can combine functions will come down to your personal preference.

Using technology to improve your fitness

Exercise is an important part of managing diabetes. Regular exercise aids in insulin sensitivity, helps control blood sugar and provides other benefits, such as mood improvement and weight management. However, for someone with diabetes, it’s important to plan exercise around snacks to avoid dangerous dips in blood sugar that could lead to weakness and fainting and may potentially be life-threatening. This is where technology can help.

Using trackers to track your glucose levels, calorie intake and control your insulin pump can alert you if your blood sugar is dipping too low. Apps can even alert you when it’s time to have a snack. Fitness software and wearable fitness trackers are also valuable during exercise to track other signs of distress caused by exercise, such as rapid or irregular heartbeat.

Smart fitness software

Smart fitness software can not only help you keep track of your fitness goals, but it can also provide fitness planning and guided workouts, giving you all the resources you need to live your most healthy life.

Smart fitness software includes wearables, but these aren’t necessary. You can find plenty of free fitness apps if you’re looking to save money or you can subscribe to premium apps if you want extended services like consultations or personalized meal plans.

Your device may come with a free fitness app with some tracking features. These apps offer tracking and guided workouts, which could be that extra edge that you need to stay consistent. You can also find free guided workout resources online.

Yoga apps & streaming services

Yoga is a great exercise that can benefit both your body and your mind. Yoga can be specifically beneficial to people with diabetes because it is a scalable practice you can do at a gym, studio or right from home. You could practice gentle or more engaged yoga, depending on your exercise needs. Yoga also helps reduce stress, which is another important part of disease management.

You can use yoga apps in place of or in tandem with in-person yoga classes. Whether you just can’t get to the studio or you prefer to work out at home, these apps and streaming services ensure you have a way to practice.

Yoga can be a supplement to other workout routines as a way to reduce soreness or the main part of your fitness plan.

Technology and the future of diabetic care

Healthcare technology, including mHealth and diabetes care technology, has made huge strides. However, there is more innovation on the horizon as medicine continues to evolve.

For example, 5G networks could make it possible for doctors to provide medicinal care remotely. 5G has allowed doctors to conduct remote retinal laser photocoagulation for the treatment of diabetic retinopathy. The ability to conduct procedures like this remotely could open up tons of healthcare accessibility to more and more places, those with mobility restrictions and others who may not be able to get into a doctor’s office.

When looking at the future of diabetic care, we can see how technology is improving the accuracy, accessibility and ease of care. With phone-accessible apps that help every step of the way for new and existing diabetes patients, people with this chronic disease can reclaim more of their time and independence.

Additional resources on diabetes self-care

Additional resources for diabetes self-care and management include educational blogs, national organizations and online forums. With these resources, you can connect with others in your community, learn more about the condition and future innovations in diabetes care, as well as seek financial or emotional support from various organizations.

Both new and previously diagnosed patients with diabetes can use these resources.

  • Association of Diabetes Care and Education Specialists: This organization provides care and education resources for those with both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes. This organization works with adults and adolescents and has tools for diabetes prevention, management and education.
  • American Diabetes Association: This is one of the biggest organizations for diabetes support and education in America. It offers resources for people of all ages with diabetes, including resources for prevention, management, education and advocacy. The American Diabetes Association also funds its own research on the disease and can be a great place to get news.
  • Carenity: Carenity is an online support group for people living with Type 2 diabetes. Seeking and receiving emotional support is an incredibly important part of managing any chronic illness, because these illnesses can have profound emotional effects on patients. By joining an online group like Carenity, you can find other patients living with Type 2 diabetes to receive support from.
  • diaTribe: diaTribe is an online learning and living community that offers educational and emotional support to those living with diabetes. Their blog offers advice for living with diabetes and they also have an online community where you can connect with other people living with diabetes.

Diabetes can have a profound impact on your quality of life. However, learning how to consistently manage your diabetes can ease these effects. Mobile technology has allowed people with diabetes more access to the things they need to make their lives with diabetes easier.