Jewels Doskicz is a registered nurse, freelance writer, patient advocate, health coach, and long-distance cyclist. Jewels is the moderator of Diabetic Connect’s weekly #DCDE Twitter chat, and she and her daughter both live healthfully with type 1 diabetes.

Have you ever thought, “I need to get with the times and engage more with technology”?

Well, there’s no better time than now. So consider dropping the pen and paper and trading them in for a digital version instead.

Your existing nightmare involving visions of tangled cords shoved in drawers, multiple programs to download, and endless reports to interpret diabetes data will soon be a thing of the past; they are being replaced by streamlined data.

The time has come for us to drop our inner technophobe and embrace the new face of diabetes management. It may beep at us, send reminders, and need an occasional charge, but the paybacks can be huge.

Age-related engagement

I’ll be the first to admit that many people successfully manage their disease with the most basic supplies and do a darned good job with it. I did it this way for the first fifteen years of my diagnosis with type 1 diabetes. But the exciting thing is that there are really amazing technical advances to explore now. And to boot, they make managing diabetes even easier.

Statistics show that the largest proportion of diabetics have type 2 diabetes and they’re over the age of 50. Not surprisingly, many are inclined to avoid technology for disease management. This type of behavior actually has a name: technophobia.

A study from the University of Waterloo observed participants with type 2 diabetes. The researchers discovered that “90 percent of research participants owned a computer or had daily Internet access.” But only “18 percent used applications on this technology to help manage their diabetes.”

Only half of the participants owned smartphones—a surprisingly small number—and among those who did, only five percent were using their smartphones to track and manage their diabetes.

There’s obviously room to engage here, specifically with technology that is both user-friendly and built with an aging population in mind.

Getting started

You may wonder about the necessity of technology, but research directly correlates increased electronic efforts to health payoffs. According to Exchange Magazine, “people who use smartphone and web apps to manage chronic diseases follow their doctors' recommendations more closely and make positive changes in their health.”

What type of technology are researchers suggesting? Begin by thinking along the lines of digital glucose logs, activity trackers, dietary apps, or perhaps simple reminders that prompt actions such as taking medications and checking glucose levels. Newer glucometers interface with insulin pumps, apps, and programs for digital insight into the entire picture. Continuous glucose monitors are another avenue to explore.

With more than two-thirds of study participants indicating that they were ready to embrace electronic changes, one can only hope that the marketplace will follow suit by catering products to those living with type 2 diabetes.

Give it a shot. We know that successful diabetes management equates to an improved quality of life, longevity with disease, and, of course, a decrease in complications related to elevated glucose levels.

How to incorporate electronics into your diabetes care:

• Check out product recommendations in the Diabetes Forecast Consumer Guide.
• Ask your healthcare team about apps and other electronics they recommend for you.
• Think about what tools you would be interested in trying to make diabetes management easier for you.
• Read reviews associated with diabetes electronics and make informed decisions before you invest.
• Seek advice from your local Certified Diabetes Educator; educators are very familiar with products and the feedback associated with them.

To learn more about technology and diabetes:

Technology to Help Diabetes Control: Continuous Glucose Monitors (CGM)
Next Generations of Diabetes Wearables
New Glucose Meter Could Change Quality of Life For Diabetics