Diabetes management...there's an app for that
People living with type 1 diabetes (T1D) are constantly carb counting, monitoring and recording to ensure proper and precise management of their disease. This type of meticulous care can be especially difficult for adolescents who have demanding school and social schedules. Dr. Cafazzo and his team knew this and were looking for ways to help motivate young people to better manage their T1D. Through research and observation, the team discovered that if they could find a way to incorporate smartphones to the mix of diabetes management that they would have a better chance of success with this demographic. This was the beginning of bant.
JDRF, through the support of TELUS has helped fund the development of this incredible application. bant is a smartphone application that collects diabetes data and interprets the data to help make management easier. We had the opportunity to speak to Dr. Cafazzo about bant, how it helps with the management of T1D, and the future of this amazing application. Here’s an excerpt from our conversation with him:
- Can you describe the bant app for someone who has never heard of it?
bant is intended to be a personal tool for you to manage your diabetes through your smartphone. It will collect your diabetes data from you and your meter, help you interpret it, and hopefully make it easier to manage it, without burdening you with lots of work.
Soon, it will also collect glucose data directly from your meter, and lab results and medications from your doctor. It will also soon allow you to enroll in new diabetes research studies, allow you to securely share your data with investigators, and contribute to new discoveries and treatments. In the end, bant is intended to be a complete dashboard on your diabetes management, and allow you to connect with the diabetes community in research.
- What gave you the idea that this app would be something that would be of interest to young people living with T1D?
The smartphone is where most young people go to engage in just about every activity these days. Why not their own diabetes care? It’s hard to imagine that we would continue to help them through paper-based tools, or how impractical it is to help them face-to-face when it’s something that requires daily management.
- What do you hope to achieve through this app?
We hope that bant will become a companion application for daily management of diabetes. Not something that is necessarily fun, but just helps those living with diabetes get through the day, motivate them to do the right thing, and not let their diabetes be left unmanaged.
- What has the response been so far?
bant was the first of its kind for many years and accumulated tens of thousands of users around the world. Most people liked it because it was simple to use and that it was multi-lingual. Since that time, there are been dozens of new diabetes applications that have been made available that appeal to all kinds. We think that there will be different apps for different people, and bant will be unique in how connected it will be to your doctor and to the research community in Canada.
- Technology changes daily, how do you see this app evolving?
New meters are coming onto the market that will soon be able to communicate directly with bant, making it so much easier to capture your glucose readings. bant will also read from your FitBit®, and your Bluetooth weight scale, and will be able to help you interpret this data in the context of your diabetes. Sharing data securely will become easier.
Perhaps the most exciting aspect is how bant will be used for research. People will be able to share their data with researchers and gain insights into diabetes that previously wasn’t possible. It will be so much easier for people to participate in leading-edge research in Canada.
- What’s the most important thing you think people should know about the app?
We hope that the app won’t create a burden on people or create more anxiety. Its purpose is to make your life easier, by making you more certain about what you’re doing about your diabetes.
If you already have a favourite diabetes app, it doesn’t mean you need to give it up for bant. In the future, the good diabetes apps out there can actually securely share information with bant under your control, and then allow you to share that data with your doctor or researcher through the bant network in Canada.
- How is it going to change the lives of people living with T1D?
Less burden, less anxiety, and hopefully better outcomes. We are modernizing the management of diabetes through the use of technology. Log books be gone!
- Last but certainly not least, for those interested in downloading bant, what providers is it available to and what is the cost (if any) of this app?
bant has been available since 2010 for tens of thousands of people who use it daily. A new version will be released this fall that will have many of the new features described that we hope people will enjoy. Next year, an Android version will be made available and more advanced features introduced, including the research sharing ability. As for cost, bant is free, and we intend to keep it that way.
To download the bant app, visit the iPhone app store.