Challenges with insulin calculators and how Balansio Mobile compares to the competition

The recent study shows that finding good insulin calculators can be more challenging than you might think. In this post, we will walk through the main issues of the most popular insulin calculators that are used for diabetes self-care. At the same time, we will explain how Balansio Mobile´s insulin calculator differs from the competition.

In our work together with consumers, we have noticed that many people are skeptic about using insulin calculators or other diabetes-related applications in their daily life. The same goes for medical professionals even though many consider that applications such as bolus calculators could have the potential to help users to manage their condition. What makes the situation more confusing is a study1 which shows that more than 60 % of diabetics do not know how to calculate their required bolus insulin amount or have trouble calculating it correctly.

Based on our own experience when working with diabetics, we discovered that it is because of two main reasons; required effort and reliability. The key aspect that users are looking for is easier and hassle-free way to manage their condition. In addition, the application must be reliable.

Required effort and Reliability

For most health apps that exist on the market, there is a trade-off between required effort and level of trust. An application is either quick and easy to use but does not take into account all possibilities that can occur during the day and/or has some features that can show insufficient or incorrect information. The reasons for simple apps can be many, but one major reason is to make the app as effortless as possible for the user. Insulin-dependent diabetics are required to constantly add data about themselves in order for apps to have enough information to give an insulin proposal. The process of saving the information needs to be as smooth as possible in order for it to fit in with the other diabetes-related tasks (e.g. manually measuring blood glucose level, count carbohydrates and injecting insulin, to name a few). Therefore, it is no surprise that developers want and need to make as simple and easy to use applications as possible.    

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On the other hand, some applications allow users to add detailed information that enables to use the apps in various everyday situations. The challenge with detailed information is that it increases the efforts to use the application. In other words, Each data input requires too many taps, swipes and saves for it to be called “easy to use”. In many situations, this can end up with the user uninstalling the application.

Besides the required effort to use an app, reliability also plays a big role. This is in many ways obvious since the main reason for using an insulin calculator is get a correct answer every time. Unfortunately, many applications, many of which lack proper certification, have not been tested enough. Incorrect bolus insulin proposals can have serious and even life-threatening consequences.    

Balansio is effortless and reliable

Like most other insulin calculators Balansio is a bolus calculator for insulin-dependent diabetics. It is designed to be used multiple times a day and hence, the way to input data is optimized to the core data needed. Instead of adding many details of information with every input, Balansio relies on defining ones settings thoroughly before taking the application into use. After defining the settings Balansio adjusts its calculation algorithm based on the time of the day and events that occur during the day. Because of this the user only needs to tap her blood glucose value and carbohydrate intake and accept or adjust the bolus proposal before saving the data. It takes less than 5 seconds to input and save the data with Balansio, which is important when you are about to start a lunch and don’t want to play around with applications.

Despite being easy to use, the goal is also to be reliable without cutting corners on providing trustworthy and accurate information. This should be achieved regardless of the time of day or what the user has eaten earlier. Balansio understands the possible variation of the way user’s body reacts to insulin and carbohydrates eaten as well as the need for different target blood glucose ranges throughout the day. The bolus proposal is always provided accordingly. Balansio incorporates a number of safeguards protecting the user from inputting inappropriate data entries as well as limits the bolus proposals as defined in the settings. Bolus proposal is not provided if any of the safeguards are triggered.

The competition

A recent study2 of currently available applications on the market which provide bolus proposals shows that over 95% of the applications have issues, which makes the applications unreliable to use. Table 1 (from the study) shows in detail what kind of issues were found from the products. The table is divided into three issue types consisting of input issues, output issues, and other software errors. Each individual issue is further explained in comments. The percentage of applications impacted by the issues are shown next. Finally, a description of how Balansiocompares to the issues is presented.

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According to the study shown on table 1, 96% of bolus calculators available on the market contain at least one issue with data input affecting the bolus calculation. Furthermore, 67 % of the tested apps had at least one output issue, e.g. 48 % violated a clinical model. Finally, nearly a quarter of the applications kept crashing or did not respond to commands during testing. In comparision, we feel confident saying that Balansio is not characterized by any of the issues mentioned in table 1. Even though Balansio has not yet gone through a similar test, due to its resent launch, both input and output issues mentioned have been taken into account during the development. For example, Balansio has shown to consistently follow the stated formula and the output is synchronised with changing user input. Extensive testing has been performed to ensure the application functionalities and ensure that the application does not unexpectedly crash during use. In other words, there is a reason for Balansio being a CE certified class 2b medical device.

To wrap it up

Although many insulin dependent diabetics seem to find it challenging to estimate their bolus insulin dosages correctly, there seems to be a mistrust for bolus calculator applications that exist on the market. The mistrust seems to be valid because a recent study shows that over 95 % of insulin calculators have at least one issue due to which the apps may show incorrect data. Balansio offers reliable and easy to use CE-certified medical device application for insulin dependent diabetics looking for a bolus insulin calculator for daily use.

REFERENCES

  1. Sussman et al., 2012 – Performance of a Glucose Meter with a Built-In Automated Bolus Calculator versus Manual Bolus Calculation in Insulin-Using Subjects
  2. Kit Huckvale et al., 2015 – Smartphone apps for calculating insulin dose: a systematic assessment

WRITTEN BY

Paulus Carpelan, VP of Product Marketing
Otto Elonen, Business Development Manager