Finland-based medical technology startup Dottli has found a way to make diabetes management easier. For those of us who don't suffer from diabetes or have family members who do, it may seem strange that medical technology, including apps and wearable health software, has become so important to those managing diabetes, but to diabetics, it's not a surprising trend. Simple things like grabbing a meal on the go from a local cafe or skipping your gym day can have a significant impact on those living with the disease.
Another thing that many people not living with diabetes often fail to understand are the feelings of being isolated, frustrated or confused about disease management and treatment. Many may feel overwhelmed by the amount of information they have to keep track of, and visualizing how changes to their behavior and eating habits can affect diabetes management.
Though many struggling to deal with their diabetes may feel alienated by others, they are by no means alone. According to a new report by the CDC, more than 100 million Americans have diabetes or pre-diabetes, with new cases increasing in 2015 by 1.5 million. The epidemic is exacerbated by poor food choices, poor food availability and complications from comorbidities. For many diabetics and even pre-diabetics, the struggle of managing their illness is a daily battle. So how can an app help?
The Dottli app works by helping the user build a social community dedicated to helping them with diseases management. This community, which is established through chat groups, is comprised of loved ones, healthcare personnel and fellow diabetics, who are all connected through the app itself. The app, which also connects to FitBit and (will soon offer) other wearable healthcare device connections allows the user to keep track of key health indicators and share those results with their disease management team. The results of the user's activity and eating habits can be tracked and displayed graphically on the map so it's easier to see how their management is going over time and easy to share with healthcare staff committed to helping them manage their diabetes.
The app works not only as a social network, but also as a log book, where the user can enter their glucose readings, meals, exercise and any significant health events. No longer will users have to worry about forgetting how many calories were consumed during dinner last night or wonder about whether their blood glucose levels seem higher or lower than last year, it can all be stored on the cloud-based app. Dottli allows users to input all relevant data, share results with other users, easily identify patterns and analyze the data themselves.
You may be wondering how this helps diabetics long term and how Dottli uses this data. Well, according to their site, they are transparent about how user data is used and allow users to fully control who the data is shared with. Users can unshare their data at any time and any data used for research and development for Dottli is anonymized so that identifiers like names, addresses, user IDs, email addresses, etc., are removed. Personal details like users' social security numbers are never stored in their system. If users choose to delete their accounts, all personal information related to the users, along with their data is removed as well, with the exception of previously anonymized information. Data is protected in compliance with the European Union Data Protection Directive and local laws on encrypted servers. The anonymized information is used to improve healthcare outcomes and increase data available.
Our first focus is to improve life with diabetes. Despite being a growing problem globally, no one has crowd sourced diabetes-related health information. We aim to change this. We’re using our app for diabetes and data from the app to advance the understanding of diabetes globally. We believe this will be able to give insights into the root causes of T1 diabetes, as well as help people, manage their health better.
Users benefit from HbA1c estimation, illustrated blood glucose readings, blood glucose readings with meal and exercise tags, access to management groups and a compatible interface for all glucose readers. For health professionals, the app can allow them to tailor their advice to information entered by the patient, have private one-on-one chats with patients, market their specialist services and examine rates for certain demographics. Perhaps the biggest effect for health software like Dottli isn't disease management at all, though it is a significant part of their endeavor. For many, the biggest difference is that they're no longer alone, not only when it comes to understanding and displaying their progress but when it comes to having others to relate to. Startups like Dottli understand that a holistic approach is needed for disease management - the disease is the focus, but it's also critically important to remember that the disease occurs inside of a human being who has wants, needs and feelings.