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How to Develop a Diabetes Control App Like mySugr

Introduction

Everyone knows that glucose is a source of energy for a human body. We take glucose from the food we eat, and our sophisticated in-body biochemical plant transforms it into the energy we need to move and live. Glucose is delivered to the target cells of our bodies by a body-wide transport, which is blood. That’s why glucose is also known as blood sugar. 

The crucial component of the glucose delivery process is insulin, a hormone produced by our pancreas, as it aids to transport glucose to the cells that need it. And sometimes it happens that pancreas produces insufficient quantity of – or does not produce at all – insulin, and glucose stays and accumulates in the blood. When too much glucose has accumulated, we start suffering health problems. This insulin lack associated health problem is known as diabetes, one of the most common diseases in the world.


Source: World Health Organization, 2017

According to the International Diabetes Federation, in 2017:

  • Over 420 million adults aged 20-80 had diabetes; and this number will be 600+ in 15 years
  • 1 in 2 (more than 200 million) people were undiagnosed
  • Diabetes killed 4 million people
  • More than USD 700 billion of health expenditures in 2017 were associated with diabetes.
Source: WHO

Although diabetes, regardless of its type – Type 1 or Type 2, is an incurable disease, people can live long and vivid lives in case of the relevant treatment and care. 

But you may ask “How diabetes can be linked to the software development?”, right? And the answer is that software helps people control their diabetes course. It is especially relevant today, when mobile apps rule the world and 67% of the global population use mobile devices. More than 70% of the U.S. population use smartphones, i.e. mobile devices capable of running mobile apps, which, in their turn, host various instruments to empower people to stay healthy and fit.  

Source: Hootsuite’s Digital Report 2019

Mobile apps have significantly eased and improved the life of diabetes patients, providing the latter with unique capabilities to control nutrition, monitor blood glucose level, remind about upcoming medical exams, schedule and notify about insulin injection time etc.

DIGIS cares a lot about well-being of not only our people but of all the people around us, so we have written this article to describe how modern technologies can help track the course of diabetes and ease the life of diabetes patients via the use of dedicated diabetes control apps. We hope that after reading our article you will obtain enough information to start a diabetes management app, develop a blood sugar test app, create carb counting app for diabetics, or make a diabetes logbook app.

Types of Diabetes Control Applications

Before developing your own mobile app to control diabetes, you have first to identify which exactly app you want to build, because there are different types of such apps, and each of these types has its own peculiarities.

Logbook apps

When you have decided to make a diabetes diary app (logbook apps are also called diary apps), you need to be aware of the below information.
Logbook apps are in fact very convenient diaries where diabetes patients can track and log their blood glucose levels, record insulin intake intervals and doses. Some of these apps feature built-in calculator to find out a necessary dose of insulin in order to avoid hypoglycemia onsets.

Sophisticated versions of such apps allow building various disease-specific graphs or charts, and exporting all or certain records to external formats for submission to healthcare specialists and doctors.

Good example of this type of diabetes management apps is Blood Sugar Log – Diabetes Tracker. According to the developer and users of the app, it allows to easily log all diabetes-related data in one place, tag certain records to see dynamics before/after meals, at different times of the day or season. The app provides for records import and export and their emailing to a doctor. Users can choose different glucose measurement units, draft medication taking schedules, and track their weight on a daily basis.

Another one is build by a diabetes specialist and is called Diabetes Studio. In addition to the diary functionality, it can analyze the entire log and present a summary of such essential parameters as average glucose level and its deviation from the norm, insulin profiles etc. Users can personalize the app as they need and set upper and lower limits of their glucose levels, measurement units, types of insulin they take, set reminders in order not to forget about insulin injection and so on. The app also has insulin calculator to identify a required amount of insulin. Diabetes Studio supports data export to the cloud and provides access to such data from multiple devices.  

One of the most known logbook apps for diabetes patients is mySugr, available both in free and paid versions. mySugr helps user log statistics on their vitals and later analyze these stats for adjusting their treatment plans and lifestyle. Additionally, the app tracks blood sugar levels, logs carbohydrates intake, calculates needed insulin doses, and estimates HbA1c. Users can enter information about their meals, diet, medications, etc., and later check time-dependent graphs and reports in a polished dashboard screen. The app also allows setting motivating goals and track their achievement by users. The users may export detailed reports on their vitals and submit those directly to their doctors from within the app. In addition to the logbook and tracker features, mySugr app supports connection with such medical devices as Accu-Chek ® and others to fetch data on the steps, blood pressure, weight etc.

Apps for newly diagnosed diabetics

This category of diabetes control apps, by definition, must be as simple in use and user-friendly as possible. Apps from this group serve, to a certain extent, the encyclopedia of diabetes, providing their users with important information about blood glucose level and its measurement and tracking, permitted or recommended physical activities and nutrition, frequency of specialized medical exams and tests. These apps contained detailed help sections where users can find details about the disease course, treatment and related matters. In other words, apps for newly diagnosed diabetics can be called diabetes guidebooks.

One of the best mobile apps for the newly diagnosed diabetes patients is Beat Diabetes. It is so simple that it suits the beginners and helps them understand and accept their new health condition. At the same time, the app is created by a team of medical doctors, so it pays attention to really important things from the standpoint of health. Beat Diabetes contains expert tips on how to properly control glucose level, features an extensive list of diabetes complications and their onset timings, shows links to the resources with the latest diabetes treatment plans and approaches. Users can also benefit from professional recommendations on food and drinks

Diabetes Guide is another representation of this group apps. It provides a complete guide on health support for newly diagnosed diabetes patients, allowing them to find useful tips and information on their health conditions. Moreover, the app enables users to keep their daily log of such indicators as hemoglobin, insulin, blood pressure, glucose and so on.

Food and exercise apps

This type of apps is intended mostly to help diabetes patients keep to their diet and maintain a sufficient level of physical activity. Diabetes patients can count how many calories they get from their food and which physical activities they need to do to maintain their fitness level. 

MyFitnessPal is one of such apps. It is a calorie counter helping users to reduce weight. Having several million food products in its database and housing a barcode scanning feature, it greatly simplifies the user life. The users can track nutrients available in their food, set goals regarding the weight and get reminders on these goals. The app provides for logging user exercises and further calculating the amount of burnt calories. It also has certain social features as it allows users to connect with other diabetes novices or veterans to share their experience. 

MyNetDiary is an app that tracks food and exercises of diabetes patients. Available on various platforms, the app allows users to have access to its extensive database of foods (over 700k) which even include restaurant meals. It helps users find out what they eat and track such important indicators as fat, carbohydrates (carbs), proteins, and calories. The users can see visual graphs and charts to check how they perform in terms of diet and exercises. Moreover, the users can set up specialized and custom menus depending on their weight. 

There are a lot more awesome apps targeted to control diabetes and make diabetics life way more easier. Those we described above are just the tip of an iceberg.

Core Features of a Diabetes Monitoring Application

If you nurture idea to build an app like mySugr to help people manage diabetes, you first need to think about which features your app must include to be appealing to users. 

There are quite a lot of studies and research performed to find out which features users consider essential for a quality diabetes monitoring app. We have browsed several of them and arrived at the result that users want to have the following features in their diabetes control apps:

There are quite a lot of studies and research performed to find out which features users consider essential for a quality diabetes monitoring app. We have browsed several of them and arrived at the result that users want to have the following features in their diabetes control apps: 

  1. Clean logbook where users can enter their data in an easy manner and browse that data at a later time. The users do not want this feature to be too complicated as it can take a while to get to know it well. 
  2. Food database to save users’ time and effort and allow them to select their usual food from a preset library. The bigger the database is, the faster users can enter their food details into the app and check amount of calories, carbohydrates etc. 
  3. Carb calculator to define how much carbs the food users eat contains. This feature can be, and actually in most cases is, combined with food database so that the users can tap on a preset to select their meal and immediately learn what amount of carbs it contains. 
  4. Detailed graphs to be able to view trends in the health status change. The user additionally wish to have an opportunity to customize color coding of the graphs to enhance visibility of indicators they consider important.
  5. Analytical charts to see users’ performance over time and define aspects/indicators requiring certain improvements.
  6. Various reports to be able to check health stats not only separately but also as part of a comprehensive or specific report. 
  7. Data import and export to be able to import data into the app from external devices such as digital glucose meters, pedometers, physical activity monitors or other devices, and also to export the data from the app logbook to external devices such as PC/tablet etc. and to the cloud. 
  8. Reminder system to avoid missing medication (e.g. insulin or other) intake, or not to forget about the need to do some physical exercises etc. 
  9. Social diabetes-specific education feature to connect with the diabetes community in order to get their recommendations or advice or to share own experience with the community. 

Of course, exact set of features will depend on the type of app you want to create. For example, if you want to start a mySugr-like diabetes app, you would need to include virtually all of the listed features, as the app must be a comprehensive all-in-one solution to control diabetes. However, if you plan to build diabetes insulin calculator app, you would most likely not need export to the cloud or social education features.  If the task is to create an app to track sugar intake, you may implement a food sugar converter/calculator, add barcode scanning feature to avoid manual entry of the food and so on.

How Much Does It Cost to Create a Diabetes Control App Like mySugr

The approximate cost you need to pay for mySugr diabetes logbook app development will start at USD 150,000 and depend on a lot of aspects. 

First of all, you need to determine the platform your app will run on: whether you are to make a diabetes management app for Android or you want to start a diabetes management app for iOS, or you plan to build the app capable of running on both platforms. Separate apps for Android and iOS platforms will cost more than the one that runs on both platforms. 

Here are hourly rates of iOS, Android, and React Native (one app for both iOS and Android platforms) developers: 

Basic iOS Developer – USD 15-30 per hour 

This rate ensures basic iOS development such as wireframing and storyboarding, Swift and/or Objective C, Xcode IDE. 

Middle iOS Developer – USD 25-70 per hour

Middle developers can go beyond basics, have skills in more than one frameworks and APIs. 

Senior iOS Developer – USD 50-80+ per hour

Senior developers go far beyond fundamentals and are experienced in working with multiple frameworks such as UIKit, Cocoa, Foundation and others. These developers are skilled in bug tracking and fixing, have extensive hands-on experience with version control systems and other highly specialized tools. 

You need to plan a budget you are ready to spend to create an insulin calculator app for iPhone, considering the above figures.

Basic/Middle Android Developer – USD 12-60 per hour

This rate ensures experience and skills in Java, Android SDK, Android Studio IDE, at least one of such frameworks as Ionic, Cordova, or Material Foundation. It also anticipates knowledge various bugtracking and version control systems like Jira, Github etc. 

Senior Android Developer – USD 40-100+

Senior Android developers are able to perform the whole SDLC using multiple frameworks, tools, and systems. They can also lead development teams and tutor junior developers and, sometimes, act as project managers if needed. 

React Native Developer – USD 35-100+

Hourly rate of React Native developers varies significantly depending on the location, project type and duration etc. 

When calculating what it can cost you to start a mySugr-like diabetes app, you need to take into account not only the mobile app but also its back-end, i.e. server part where the databases are stored, calculations are performed, and analytics and statistics are compiled. 

Like in case of front-end developers, back-end developers’ hourly rates may vary depending on a developer’s experience and location, project type and timing etc. 

Approximated hourly rate range will be from USD 15 to USD 100+. 

You also need to consider the cost of UI/UX designer work, which starts at USD 20 and goes as high as you are ready to pay.  

And the final chord, do not forget about possible integration with external medical devices if you plan to implement such capabilities.  It will need some special expertise and skills which are charged on a case-by-case basis.

Conclusion

As one can see, building a high quality diabetes control application is not a piece of pie and requires a lot of planning, checking, validation, and discussion. The situation is even more complicated as the app needs to help mitigate negative effects of the diabetes disease for the people. So you need to have at least an adviser specializing in the healthcare and diabetes mellitus. 

Conduct research to find out whether your vision of the app is properly received by the target audience – it is absurd to create something not needed by the market. 

Be sure to write down all your expectations and requirements to the app and its features on paper – it will help you not lose the point and have notes to refer to at a later stage. 

Draft a schedule for your app development project and outline its milestones – this is how you will be able to track the progress and see what has been done and what has not been. 

One of the most important things is to plan the project budget – you should be absolutely sure that your funds will be sufficient to accomplish the project even if there are any complications or delays. It is absolutely crucial as running short of money in the middle of the project development will double the negative effect – you have already spent all your money, wasted time and got nothing in return. If you are not sure you have enough money, it’s better not to start the project at all. 

Another critical point is the project team. You need to have skilled developers who will be creating you app. Those can be either your in-house development team, in case you are dealing with healthcare software development, or you may outsource the project to an outside development team or agency. In the latter case do not get caught by a low cost of the development and sweet promises of potential contractors. Think the worst case scenario! Check feedback and testimonials of potential contractors’ previous customers. Do not be shy even to reach some of these customers and ask questions about the development company’s performance on their projects. Throw your “yes to go” only when you are absolutely sure that you have found the relevant contractor. 

A quick tip from DIGIS: this contractor must have past experience of successful development of similar projects in the healthcare domain. For example, DIGIS has such experience as we have implemented a lot of healthcare software development projects for hospitals, clinics and other healthcare providers in the Western countries. Feel free to get in touch with us to get a rough estimate of your diabetes management app development. DIGIS will do it in a fast and reliable manner. We will also be pleased to engage with your project development if you find our cost estimate reasonable and fit for your expectations and needs. 

In return, you will be able to make a diabetic diary app or another diabetes management application that can empower affected people to become healthier!

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