News | September 2022

Drastic Differences in Utility and Perceived Benefits Among Digital Health Products for People with Diabetes, According to National dQ&A® Survey

A semi-annual national survey of digital health apps by dQ&A demonstrates that people with diabetes are not always getting what they want from diabetes-specific apps. Some general health and wellness apps are considered to work well for people living with diabetes, while diabetes specific apps have big variations in app evaluation and outcomes.

SAN FRANCISCO, California, September 7, 2022 – Breaking research from dQ&A shows significant differences in the utility and perceived benefits of health apps for people with diabetes. Mobile digital health is rapidly growing in importance in the diabetes world, and is changing behavior, outcomes, and how patients get advice. This poses the question: “is digital health paying off?”

dQ&A conducts a semi-annual study of digital health apps in diabetes, known as “DHx” (Digital Health Experience). DHx is intended to answer questions about how these tools work for people with diabetes, including:

  • Which apps deliver improvements in health outcomes and which do not?
  • What factors make some apps succeed and some apps fail?
  • What elements drive patient satisfaction and patient behavior?
  • How do apps change communication between doctors, patients and manufacturers?

To answer these questions, the study uses advanced statistical techniques to uncover patient preferences at a detailed level.

dQ&A has released selected DHx data and insights from its US study of over 1,000 people with diabetes, all of whom use digital health apps.

The 25 leading apps studied were:

Abbott FreeStyle Libre App Lose it!
Abbott FreeStyle LibreLink Medtronic CareLink Connect
Apple Health MyFitnessPal
CalorieKing mySugr
Carb Manager: Low Carb and Keto Diet Tracker Nightscout
Contour Diabetes Noom
Dexcom CLARITY Samsung Health
Fitbit Strava
Garmin Connect Sugarmate
Glooko Tandem t:connect mobile
Google Fit Tidepool
Happy Bob WW / WeightWatchers
Livongo

 

A key insight from the work is that there is a broad variation in patient satisfaction across the various apps, with some clear winners and losers, and there is no ‘one size fits all’ application. Some examples include:

  • Patients in dQ&A’s community reported that some apps directly linked to BGM or CGM devices were strong drivers of better health outcomes. The primary ways respondents feel that these apps reduce the burden of living with diabetes and improve overall health are by:
    • Increasing Time in Range (the amount of time users spent in their target blood glucose range)
    • Reducing A1C (a measurement of average blood glucose levels over the past 3 months)
    • Reducing the fear of hypoglycemic (low blood glucose) episodes
    • Reducing concerns of long-term diabetes complications
  • Although 50% of people with type 2 diabetes say that not getting enough exercise is their biggest diabetes challenge, diabetes apps largely fail to perform well in this area. Patients had a significantly better experience with apps like MyFitnessPal or the FitBit app. Even though target users are not limited to people with diabetes, they successfully made participants feel that it was made to fit their needs.
  • While both people with type 1 and type 2 diabetes use digital health tools to manage their diabetes, the perceived value of various elements was not equivalent. People with type 2 diabetes on insulin find the greatest utility in features that alert them when their BG goes out of range. But utility also differed for features like social interaction, educational resources, and integration with other apps.

“Mobile health is growing at 17% a year and is estimated to be worth $50 billion annually by 2028. Diabetes is at the forefront,” says Richard Wood, dQ&A’s CEO. “Apps can not only improve outcomes and patient quality of life, but are driving a huge change in the relationships between patients, healthcare professionals, digital health and wellness companies and drug and device manufacturers. At dQ&A, we are committed to understanding how patients experience digital health, so we can help our clients evolve to meet new challenges and drive positive change.”

About DHx

DHx is an insights service from dQ&A designed to uncover what makes digital health apps successful from the user perspective. It explores 25 top apps which are the diabetes leaders in health coaching, exercise, diet, data management, and glucose monitoring. DHx drills down into the details of each app to determine what elements meet patient needs and how they drive satisfaction, outcomes, engagement, and loyalty. It investigates how patients came to start using the app, and the connection with their healthcare providers and their app provider. DHx is intended to help dQ&A clients meet the challenges of a rapidly evolving world, in which patients are exercising their power outside the doctor’s office.

To learn more about the results of dQ&A’s Digital Health Experience service, send us an email at info@d-qa.com.

About dQ&A – The Diabetes Research Company
dQ&A is a social enterprise that’s committed to making life better for people with diabetes. We harness patient voices to help develop better tools and policies for people with diabetes and improve health outcomes. For over ten years, we have been tracking the experiences and opinions of people with diabetes in the United States, Canada and Europe. We are trusted by patients because of our independence and commitment to them. Our team has decades of experience in quantitative and qualitative research and a deep knowledge of diabetes. Many of our own lives have been touched by diabetes, so we have a personal stake in our work. To learn more and to see research highlights, follow us on LinkedIn (dQ&A – The Diabetes Research Company) and Twitter (@dQAresearch).