Applications introduced to help patients manage sugar levels during the pandemic have worked out for some people.
During the lockdown, startups have created apps such as Sugar fit and Digital Twin to help diabetic patients manage their health condition. They have helped patients manage their health at home without consulting a doctor in person. Credibility is still a concern, say experts.
Dashmeet, who uses one such app said, “The app provides all tracking tools for patients and appointment booking options. It works great because the user has everything at one place and there is no hustle. It takes some time to understand but it gets easier once you get a hold of it. The annual program costs around Rs. 23,000. I think it is reasonable because it includes doctors, coach, exercise everything.”
However, Pankaj, a diabetic patient said that the app only focuses on diabetes and the other diseases that are connected with it are neglected.. They provide multiple videos and literature in the applications but such resources are available for free on the internet. They should include customized plans as per patients needs, he added.
Dr. Vishwanath, an endocrinologist said, “Many people’s sugar went beyond control and they have put on weight. The number of diabetic patients has always been a lot, however the existing patients suffered more due to lack of access to doctors. I’ve been giving teleconsultations but sometimes it is difficult to follow up.” Not all the claims that these apps make, are true, he added.
Seventy seven million people in India have suffered from diabetes in 2019 and this number is projected to increase to 101 million in 2030 according to the International Diabetes Federation (IDF).
Sanjay, a diabetic said, “It has been difficult during the lockdown as I keep getting hungry every now and then, and my family has to monitor what I eat. Since there was nowhere to go to in the lockdown, I have been staying at home and eating. Regular checkups have reduced to a great extent. Lifestyle is a major cause for the disease and if an app can help me monitor that, it would be a relief.”
Muskan another diabetic patient who uses the app said that it helps in monitoring and controlling the amount of calories she takes. It also allows her to keep a check on the medicines.
According to a study, “Nearly 50 percent of the patients affected during the second wave, have at least one comorbidity. Even since the inception of the pandemic, diabetes has emerged as one of the distinctive comorbidities that have consistently been associated with severe disease, acute respiratory distress syndrome and mortality in COVID-19. In fact, diabetes has been implicated as the most important cause for mortality in COVID-19 hospitalized patients.”
Vasu Goel, head of business operations at Sugar Fit said, “Pills, improper diet, and lack of exercise deteriorated health and it was an opportunity to let technology enable users to integrate diabetes management. During lockdown people became more tech savvy, self care became more relevant and the most important thing is the intent to act.” However, making people shift to online platforms and gaining their trust has been a challenge, he said.
Mirza, a cyber law expert said such apps can use the data in digital marketing for various pharmaceutical companiesbut it asks for the permission of the user first. “I don’t think there is any other concern with such applications.” she added.
Sugar fit which was introduced three months ago has 1000+ downloads whereas Twin health has over 10,000+ downloads on Google Play Store.