Choosing the right app for your needs

Have you ever considered including an app in your diabetes management toolkit? Whether you're looking for an app to count carbohydrates, monitor your blood glucose levels or help manage stress, there is an app out there that can help.

Here's how to make sure you are getting the right diabetes management app for you.


What is an app?


Apps fundamentals

Click to learn more

How can apps help manage my diabetes?

Apps can help count carbohydrates, monitor blood glucose levels or track physical activity. Some apps help to manage stress or reduce intakes of alcohol or tobacco.

I am very new to using apps. Where do I start?

Depending on your device, you can go the App Store for iOS (Apple) users or Google Play Store for Android users. Type in “diabetes” and perhaps another topic to help narrow down options. E.g. blood glucose monitoring, carbohydrate counting.

How well do apps work for managing diabetes?

When apps are used well, evidence suggests a small but significant benefit on improving health measures like HbA1c, cholesterol, blood pressure and body weight.

Your diabetes team members can use or suggest apps to support your diabetes management. Apps are never meant to replace healthcare professional advice.

Safety aspects when choosing apps

While many apps are quite safe to use, health professionals are very wary of apps that calculate your insulin doses. Many factors can affect how much insulin you need from day to day, so ask your diabetes team to confirm your insulin needs and ask them to adjust the settings on the insulin calculator app with you.

What are self-care behaviours that apps can help me develop?

Recognised self-care behaviours include:

  1. Healthy eating
  2. Being active
  3. Blood glucose monitoring
  4. Taking medication
  5. Problem solving
  6. Developing coping strategies
  7. Reducing health risks

Apps that help or improve behaviour change (addressing problem solving, coping strategies and risk reductions) are less common.

How are health apps rated?

While detailed tools like the Mobile App Rating Scale, can be to assess how functional and engaging health apps are, it is more common to see user ratings included with descriptions of apps. These may not always be the most reliable feedback to rely on.

Other things to keep in mind

Where possible, pick apps that are created for use in Australia. They should use relevant units like mmol/L, kg or g (rather than mg/dL, lb or oz). For a food-related app, the data should be based on the Australian food supply; overseas apps may have different names of foods or ingredients and different labelling laws which may lead to confusion.


Apps for you to check out

Click app categories to reveal more

Accessing Health Information Accessing health information

13SICK National Home Doctor 13SICK National Home Doctor

Platform: Apple (iOS) and Android

Cost: Free

Have you ever needed a doctor at short notice, but your local clinic has closed for the day? To see a fully qualified doctor after hours, or to have a GP visit your home, you can access the National Home Doctor Service.

This bulk-billed service is designed for non-routine care, for instance when you or a family member becomes unwell. Please note the service does not cover emergency services or routine care. In a medical emergency, call 000 for urgent care. For routine care, like filling prescriptions or getting referrals, see your regular GP during normal business hours instead.

The service is available from:

  • 6pm on weekdays
  • 12pm on Saturdays
  • All-day Sunday and public holidays.

You can book an appointment by:

  • Phone: 13 SICK (13 7425)
  • Website: www.13SICK.com.au
  • App: 13SICK – National Home Doctor.

The app will request your regular GP’s details, as the National Home Doctor Service sends a medical report to your GP after you use the service. This keeps them informed of your ongoing care needs and any follow-up action if required.

13SICK National Home Doctor

Click here to find out more.

Lifecard PHR Lifecard PHR

Platform: Apple (iOS) and Android

Cost: Free

You can have your health information on hand through this app or via the Lifecard website.

Within the same app, you can:


  • Track measurements such as blood glucose and blood pressure
  • Set reminders for when to measure them
  • Keep a history of your health summary, medications and procedures
  • Store referrals, test results and medical reports.

You can also set up sub-accounts for your family members (for example dependent children or adults who cannot create their own). You can share information with others if they have a Lifecard account, such as your healthcare provider. They can also add information like reports or results directly to your account.

Other languages that work with Lifecard now include Malaysian, Thai and Vietnamese.

Lifecard PHR

More details here.

 Instant Consult Instant Consult

Platform: Apple (iOS) and Android

 

Cost: Free

Even with COVID-19, it is important to continue seeing your doctor for your health. If you have concerns about being physically at the clinic, or if leaving the house is difficult, you can now see a doctor online. Bulk billing appointments on Instant Consult are available for patients under 12 months of age until September 2022.

The Instant Consult app uses the video feature on your device to let you speak with a doctor to assess your health. This can be very helpful if you are getting a medical certificate for work or re-filling a script. This could save on travelling time, especially if you are caring for loved ones at home without much support. Note that you may still need to see your local GP for some situations, if a physical examination is needed.

As it is best to see your usual diabetes care team for your care appointments, do ask if they are able to provide telehealth consults using this app or by similar means.

Instant Consult

More details here.

First Aid - Australian Cross First Aid - Australian Cross

Platform:Apple (iOS) and Android

Cost: Free

If you have a loved one who has had a hypo and become unconscious, or if they have been injured and needs medical aid, you might be the person who needs to provide first aid. While it is best to have regular and updated first aid training, all these apps provide you with instructions on what to do regardless of your first aid ability, especially if there is no one else around. The most useful feature is probably the app automatically providing your GPS location to Emergency Services when you use the app to call them. This can be very handy if you are away from home or in a remote location while camping, hiking or enjoying other outdoor activities.

More details here.

Food & Nutrition appsFood & nutrition

Australian CarbCounter Traffic Light Guide to Food Australian Carb Counter Traffic Light Guide to Food

Platform:Android

 

Cost: $9.99

This app lists the amount of carbohydrate in more than 2,000 foods across 17 categories. You will find foods from Australian brands, restaurants, take-away and fast foods. By helping you count carbohydrates more accurately for each meal, this app may help you to stabilise your blood glucose levels.

When you count carbohydrate using this app, you can choose to:

  • Count in 10 grams (carbohydrate portions) or 15 grams (exchanges)
  • Change the measurement units, such as from grams to cups, to make the maths easier
  • Add ingredients to a meal so that you can add up the total carbohydrate automatically
  • Save favourite foods to make counting quicker next time.
 

More details here.

Calorie King Food Facts Calorie King Food Facts

Platform:Apple (iOS)

Cost: free

The calorie king app contains nutritional information on Australian packaged foods and fresh foods including fruits and vegetables.

You can enter your amount of food in different units (e.g. in grams or certain serving sizes) and the app will provide the nutritional content of the food, such as energy (calories/kilojoules), carbohydrates and fats. A favourite app amongst our dietitians.

 Calorie King food facts
 

Click here to find out more.

Carbs&Cals Carbs & Cals

Platform: Apple (iOS) and Android

Cost: £6.99 per month or £35.99 per year

Please note this is a UK based app, so some foods and terminology might be slightly different

A picture paints a thousand words. This app uses photographs of commonly eaten foods on dinner-sized plates to help you estimate carbohydrate more accurately. While you seldom bring weighing scales when dining out, you are more likely to have your smartphone or tablet device on hand. Perfect if you want a quick estimate and not let your food go cold! You can also track and record your food intake on the go. Our dietitians love it.

 

Click here to find out more.

Easy Diet Diary Easy Diet Diary

Platform: Apple (iOS) and Android

Cost: free

This app allows you to record and track your food intake when you scan a barcode or key it in manually. The app accesses a large Australian database providing you with accurate nutrition panel information. Whether it’s a simple snack or a customised recipe meal, you can keep an eye on your energy, fat, carbohydrate, salt and fibre intake as well as vitamins and minerals. Share your information with your dietitian or healthcare team for extra support. Another dietitian's favourite!

There is an accompanying free app called Easy Diet Diary – Renal that caters for people living with kidney disease.

Easy Diet Diary

More details here.

FoodSwitch FoodSwitch

Platform: Apple (iOS) and Android

Cost: free

Do you want to find healthier packaged foods quickly? FoodSwitch contains an Australian-based database of packaged foods. By scanning the food package barcode with your smartphone camera, this app compares up to 10 similar products based on salt, total and saturated fat, sugar and energy.

With their traffic light system or the health star rating, you can identify healthier food choices based on your health needs. This app also shows if the food is gluten free or suitable for vegetarians.

Finally, you can save your healthier favourites for your next food shopping trip.

Foodswitch

Click here to find out more.

Undermyfork Undermyfork

Platform: Apple (iOS)

 

Cost: free

Finding it hard to understand which meals allow your blood glucose levels to stay within your target range, while other meals make your blood glucose levels go high afterwards?

The Undermyfork app allows you to take pictures of the food you eat and compares the changes in your blood glucose levels before and after meals. This app can automatically sync with some continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) systems and glucometers for your blood glucose levels using Apple Health.  Otherwise you can enter your blood glucose levels manually. Use this information to tell you what foods or meals are more friendly for your blood glucose levels.

These extra features may be helpful:

  • Add notes like the portion you ate, whether you have done exercise or are under any stress
  • Use suggested tags to choose and describe the food better. This can help you understand how your body responds to certain foods or food groups
  • Tap on ‘insights’ to group foods that tend to keep your blood glucose levels in range or out of range.
Undermyfork

Click here to find out more.

Emotional health Icon Emotional wellbeing

Headspace Headspace

Platform: Apple (iOS) and Android

 

Cost: Free (or from $19.99 a month or $91.99 per year for full features, after 14-day free trial)

Living with diabetes can be overwhelming. The Headspace app provides guided meditation and mindfulness techniques to help you manage stress and anxiety, sleep better and improve relationships.

By subscribing to the full Headspace meditation library, you will be provided with additional features to enhance sleep, assist with kids and parenting, work and productivity, as well as personal growth. There are also meditations catered for children of various age groups.

Headspace

More details here.

Smiling Mind Smiling Mind

Platform: Apple (iOS) and Android

 

Cost: Free

Developed by psychologists and educators, this app uses principles of ‘mindfulness meditation’ to help manage stress and improve productivity at work, home, school or sports. Tailored programs are available for primary and secondary school aged children and adults.

You can also use Smiling Mind on Google Home.

Smiling Mind

More details here.

Way of Life Habit Tracker Way of Life Habit Tracker

Platform: Apple (iOS) and Android

 

Cost: Free (Premium versions: from $4.49 per month)

If you want to start or strengthen a healthy lifestyle habit, or stop unhelpful ones, give this app a go. Some examples of positive habits you may like to start can include:

  • Drinking water
  • Flossing your teeth
  • Eating fruit
  • Meditating or praying
  • Uncluttering your home
  • Playing with your kids more.

Less healthy habits you can choose from include reducing or stopping smoking or alcohol intake. You can also customise your own habit. Since this app is from America, terms like “soda” or “vacation” are used.

You have the option of having days off from a certain habit as well. Then your success rate will only count on the days you planned that specific habit. On those days, you get a green tick if you complete it, or a red cross if you didn’t.

Finally, you can make notes to reflect on later. This can help you identify factors that helped or hindered you. Extra tools include setting reminders and alarms to record your progress or complete a habit.

Way of Life Habit Tracker

More details here.

Medicines Icon Medicines

MedAdvisor MedAdvisor

Platform: Apple (iOS) and Android

 

Cost: Free

Do you want an app that helps you organise your medications in the one place?

This app can be used for yourself or your children or elderly loved ones under Carer mode. The app reminds you when to take different medications and can be helpful if you or a love one take different medications at different times, or if you’re caring for someone who may not manage their medications as well.

The app notifies you when your medications and prescriptions are running low, to help you organise new scripts with your GP. You can use this app to pre-order your medications to reduce waiting time at your pharmacist. If you’re travelling, you can even use it to buy medications away from home from affiliated pharmacies linked to the app.

It also contains useful information on medications, like side effects and precautions.

Medadvisor

NPS Medicine Wise NPS Medicine Wise

Platform: Apple (iOS) and Android

 

Cost: free

Would you like to have your medication list up-to-date and in one place? This app will help keep your medication doses on hand, when to take them, when to re-fill your prescription, and has alarms and reminders available. It is common for people managing diabetes to have medication reviews, so you can save all your current medications and the dose you take in this app for your reference and to share with your diabetes team. As a new feature, you can scan the barcode of your medication box, to save you typing names that are long and hard to pronounce. Finally, you can have more than one profile so you can manage the medications of your family member(s) too.

As this app is funded by the Department of Health, you can link your data with My Health Record.

NPS Medicine Wise

More details here.

Monitoring Apps IconMonitoring

Glucose Buddy Glucose Buddy

Platform: Apple (iOS) and Android

 

Cost: free

Popular with many Android users, this app allows you to record and track your blood glucose levels, insulin doses, medications, food intake and activity levels. You can link with selected meters and apps. Summarised data can help you identify trends so you can trouble-shoot or problem solve niggly blood glucose ups and downs. Sync your data across your desktop and handheld devices so it is available wherever you go. Finally you can share with healthcare professionals through email.

Glucose Buddy

Click here to find out more.

Freestyle Libre Freestyle Libre Link

Platform:Apple (iOS) and Android

 

Cost: free

For many people with type 1 diabetes or those who use insulin, flash glucose monitoring has provided more insight on blood glucose levels using sensor technology (without the need for finger pricks). You can see how food, exercise or illness affect your blood glucose levels so you can manage your diabetes more proactively. You will love the trend arrows as they show if your blood glucose is going up, down or staying steady.

The add-on Freestyle Link Up app allows caregivers to receive information on diabetes care. If you are a parent at home or at work, you can get real time updates on your child’s blood glucose when your child away at school does a quick scan.

Freestyle Libre Link

Click here to find out more.

MySugr MySugr

Platform:Apple (iOS) andAndroid

 

Cost: free (premium version available for additional cost)

Suitable for adults and kids, MySugr was developed by a team of people and a diabetes educator, all of whom live with diabetes. You can log your meals, track blood glucose levels and can even estimate your HbA1c.

With a refreshing layout, the app creates useful colour-coded reports to help you manage your diabetes.  Like many apps, you can also send your reports to your diabetes team.

There are extra features if you pay for the full version of this app, like taking photos of your meals, noting your moods (feeling happy, sad or excited), or recording your specific activities (e.g. housework, playing sports or eating out).

MySugr

Click here to find out more.

Physical activity icon Physical activity

rise and recharge rise and recharge

Platform: Android

 

Cost: free

Sitting for long periods can increase your risk of developing diabetes, heart disease and some cancers. Research shows that even when you are doing regular exercise, you may not be fully protected from the effects of sitting for long periods of time. The average Australian sits for nine hours a day with little movement.

Created by the Baker Heart & Diabetes Institute, this app tracks your movement and reminds you to take regular breaks from sitting. You can set up reminders (such as every 30, 60, 90 or 120 mins) to buzz you into action. You earn one star for eight breaks of sitting. The challenge is to earn all five stars each day!

If you live with type 2 diabetes and work at least 4 days a week in a desk-based job, you may be eligible to enrol in a research trial with the Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute. They are investigating if reducing sitting time can improve your blood glucose levels.

rise and recharge

More details here.

Strava Strava

Platform: Apple (iOS) and Android

 

Cost: Free (or from $7.99 per month for premium features)

Physical activity can help lower blood glucose levels and improve concentration, memory and mood.  Using GPS technology on your smartphone, watch or exercise tracker (such as FitBit or Garmin), Strava tracks distance, pace, speed, metres climbed (they call it “elevation gained”), and energy burned when you exercise.

Apart from walking or bike riding, you can use Strava for activities like canoeing, skating, kayaking, rock climbing and surfing. Strava helps you monitor your progress and analyse your performance over time. It also suggests routes and maps to add variety to your current routine.

If you like to socialise when you exercise, you can connect with other Strava users, whether you want to compare or even compete with them! Use Strava on social media so friends and followers can comment and share their activity experiences.

Under the paid section, Strava offers customised training and workout plans. Receive feedback to help you train safely and perform better, as the app analyses your exercise data, like heart rate or “power meter.

Strava

Click here to find out more.

Reducing Risks Apps Icon Reducing risks

Daybreak - Alcohol Support Daybreak - Alcohol Support

Platform: Apple (iOS) and Android

 

Cost: Free for Australians (or from $12.99 a month for international members)

If you would like to drink less alcohol then this app can support you.

Daybreak – Alcohol Support is tailored to your individual needs and may help you to reduce your alcohol intake. The app helps you to identify potential triggers for alcohol use and develop goals. You can also receive professional advice and support from health coaches.

To help others on the same journey you can share and encourage others and be inspired yourself. This app lets you save some ‘shares’ or supporting words from others, so you can read them again when you need them. The power of community is at work!

Daybreak Daybreak Daybreak

More details here.

My QuitBuddy My QuitBuddy

Platform: Apple (iOS) and Android

 

Cost: Free

Are you thinking of quitting smoking? Whether now or later, for the first time or not, My QuitBuddy can help.

Use this app to set your own goals, add the support you need and list your reasons for quitting. App features include identifying danger times, distraction strategies and nominating friends or family (whom you can call on during tough times) to help you stay on course.

You can also see how much money you save each day to increase your motivation to quit. Engage with the My QuitBuddy community as you post and receive helpful messages from community members as you take this journey together for better health.

Finally, you can call Quitline on 13 7848 directly from the app to speak with a Quitline counsellor for information or support.

My QuitBuddy

Click here to find out more.

SunSmart SunSmart

Platform: Apple (iOS), Android

 

Cost: Free

As the weather warms up, you may think more about heading outdoors for physical activity to manage your diabetes and improve your health. If so, remember to protect your skin.

The sun’s ultraviolet (UV) radiation causes sunburn, eye damage and skin cancer – not the heat or air temperature. Using the location on your device, this app provides up-to-date sun protection advice using data from the Bureau of Meteorology and Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency.

You can program the app to alert you when sun protection is most needed – you may be surprised to learn that sun protection is often needed even on overcast days.  You can also use the app to set alerts for reminders to reapply sunscreen.

SunSmart

Click here to find out more.

Quit Genius Quit Genius

Platform: Apple (iOS) and Android

 

Cost: Free for basic (paid premium features available)

This is another app to help people quit alcohol, smoking, vaping or opiods but it’s one of the few that rate well in helping people change their behaviours.

With input from psychologists and doctors, the app prepares you to quit by:

  • Helping identify your personal triggers towards smoking or vaping and tailoring strategies to your needs
  • Using cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) to help you change the way you think about smoking
  • Providing support even after you quit, to help you stay away.
     

Features include:

  • Audio sessions
  • Exercises
  • Quizzes
  • Reminders
  • Information about smoking.
Quit Genius

Click here to find out more.

Information accessed 16 March 2022.
 

Comments or questions?

As new apps continue to come to the market, we like to hear your personal experience with apps. Please email us at technology@diabetesvic.org.au. You can also share this page with others.