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7 Best Practices for Developing Successful Diabetes Mobile Apps

Overview of best practices

1) Personalization

A successful diabetes app should allow the user to choose how data is displayed, how and what information is transmitted to third parties (such as family, friends, physicians, social networks), what metrics are being measured and what are the optimal levels for these metrics, taking into account various lifestyle factors. Personalization also means that diabetes apps should provide active feedback and actions to improve behavior based on the data generated by users.

2) Feedback

In order to sustain behavioral change, successful diabetes apps should include a social dimension and create a supportive network (family, friends, HCPs) to provide real-time feedback and coaching. Successful diabetes apps are encouraging sustained usage by giving users information and feedback on their progress.

3) Feature coverage

In order to simplify the self-management of diabetes apps, which address users with this condition should include all the tools and features that are needed for successfully keeping diabetes under control.

4) Integration and interoperability

Diabetes apps, just like mHealth apps in general, should be designed in a way that allows users to input and access their data through multiple devices from various sources. Ideally, diabetes apps would be integrated with external devices, sensors, databases and other apps, which help users achieve better control of critical health parameters in the management of diabetes (such as blood glucose levels, blood pressure, cholesterol), support the necessary lifestyle changes (weight management, exercise, nutrition) and provide new ways for connecting patients with their physicians (electronic health records). Integration gives access to a unified view on the patients’ health status and diabetes management, making it easier to identify trends, possible improvements and provide high-level personalized feedback. This also facilitates the integration of diabetes apps in the patients’ daily live and the result is simplified use and monitoring, as well as increased acceptance.

5) Motivational System

A good diabetes app should include a well-designed motivational system, which engages users, provides incentives for constant use and ultimately leads to behavior change. Best practice apps make full use of gamification elements.

6) Ease of Data Input

The usage should be effortless. Diabetes apps should fit seamlessly into users’ lives and routines, making the input of data as easy as possible without requiring too much effort from the users. Solutions should automatically transmit their glucose readings, for instance, from the blood glucose monitor to the mobile device.

7) Design & User Experience

The aesthetic dimension plays a very important part in keeping users engaged and motivated and, at the same time, it can constitute a powerful differentiation element. Just like with any other app, the design and initial visual impression determines the entire user experience and can definitely determine whether a diabetes app is successful or not.


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