App-Based Insulin Calculators: Current and Future State
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Purpose of Review
To perform a comprehensive literature review and critical assessment of peer-reviewed manuscripts addressing the efficacy, safety, or usability of insulin calculator apps.
Managing diabetes with insulin can be complex, and literacy and numeracy skills pose barriers to manual insulin dose calculations. App-based insulin calculators are promising tools to help people with diabetes administer insulin safely and have potential to improve glycemic control. While a large number of apps which assist with insulin dosing are available, there is limited data evaluating their efficacy, safety, and usability. Recently, a need for regulatory oversight has been recognized, but few apps meet federal standards. Thus, choosing an appropriate app is challenging for both patients and providers. An electronic literature review was performed to identify insulin calculator apps with either evidence for efficacy, safety or usability published in peer-reviewed literature or with FDA/CE approval. Twenty apps were identified intended for use by patients with diabetes on insulin. Of these, nine included insulin calculators. Summaries of each app, including pros and cons, are provided.
Insulin-calculator apps have the potential to improve self-management of diabetes. While current literature demonstrates improvements in quality of life and glycemic control after use of these programs, larger trials are needed to collect outcome and safety data. Also, further human factor analysis is needed to assure these apps will be adopted appropriately by people with diabetes. App features including efficacy and safety data need to be easily available for consumer review and decision making. Higher standards need to be set for app developers to ensure safety and efficacy.
KeywordsSmartphone applications Insulin bolus calculators Type 1 diabetes Type 2 diabetes FDA
Compliance with Ethical Standards
Conflict of Interest
Leslie Eiland, Meghan McLarney, Thiyagarajan Thangavelu, and Andjela Drincic declare that they have no conflict of interest.
Human and Animal Rights and Informed Consent
This article does not contain any studies with human or animal subjects performed by any of the authors.
Papers of particular interest, published recently, have been highlighted as: • Of importance •• Of major importance
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