DiabetesPilot for iPhone: Diabetes management in your pocket (review)

DiabetesPilot for the iPhone makes sophisticated control of the disease as easy as pulling the phone out of your pocket.

Articles covering mHealth tools are very popular as smartphones can play integral roles in helping manage chronic health issues. Apps for managing diabetes are evolving as primary tools in daily care for many afflicted with the disease. A diabetic spends a significant effort constantly tracking his/her diet, glucose levels, exercise, weight, and insulin usage over time. The DiabetesPilot app for the iPhone is not the cheapest solution, but it works in tandem with a desktop app to track every facet of the diabetic's life.

I was previously using the Track3 app for the iPhone (reviewed here), but found it falling short in the reporting area. While a good solution for easily entering information, the app was lacking in the ability to produce detailed printed reports and charts to share with my healthcare provider. DiabetesPilot is very good at that, and while expensive at $14.99 I find it worth the cost.

This review doesn't cover the desktop program, but concentrates on strictly the iPhone app. There are Mac and Windows versions of the desktop app. I use the Mac version ($29.99), and the ability to sync the desktop data with the iPhone via Wi-Fi keeps both apps up-to-date. The sophisticated reporting is compliments of the desktop version, as the iPhone app is only capable of very basic charts and graphs. The iPhone app is self-contained, so even though the desktop app has better reporting it is not required. There is a free trial of the desktop app to test it prior to plunking down the relatively high cost.

The DiabetesPilot app makes it easy to enter all types of information on the iPhone. Glucose levels and insulin doses are the most common entries made on a daily basis, but the app can also track other statistics important for diabetics to track. This includes weight and blood pressure, which can be tracked over time too. The user enters in information as it becomes available, and the app tracks it in the internal database for sharing and reporting.

It is particularly important to track meals to successfully treat diabetes, and DiabetesPilot shines in this area. There is a massive database of common foods in the app, and entering meals and snacks is as simple as searching this database and tapping the food on the screen. Once individual foods are entered that comprise an entire meal, the meal can be saved for easy entry in the future. The database contains items found on the menus of many restaurants for easy selection when needed.

Searching the food database is so fast on the iPhone 4S that I often use it before ordering to compare different items on restaurant menus to see which is better for me. Carbs are the bane of the diabetic's existence, and this tool is wonderful to make better choices on the fly.

The combination of easy data entry and detailed reporting gives the diabetic great control over the disease. This is critical to minimize long-term effects of diabetes, and to work closely with healthcare providers to keep treatment effective over time. There are cheaper alternatives to DiabetesPilot, but I find it is worth the cost in the control it affords me over diabetes.

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