APP Review: BlueStar Diabetes
More than 100 million people in the US alone are living with diabetes or prediabetes–elevated blood sugar that can eventually develop into diabetes if untreated. Managing diabetes means paying close attention to metrics such as blood glucose levels, weight and diet.
BlueStar is a free diabetes management app from WellDoc that provides highly individualized guidance and support for people with Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes, based on each user’s unique blood glucose levels, medications and lifestyle. BlueStar is an FDA- certified Class II medical device, and in a recent clinical trial, patients who used it averaged a two-point drop in their A1C, the test that measures levels of glucose in the blood.
Better Glucose Control Means Better Health
Diabetes is a chronic condition in which the body is unable to properly process glucose, or sugar, for energy. Normally, the body processes glucose with the help of insulin, a hormone that’s produced in the pancreas. But the ability of the pancreas to create and regulate insulin levels can be compromised, so that glucose in the bloodstream can’t be processed into the cells that need it. When glucose levels in the bloodstream rise, many other systems in the body are affected, which creates the many chronic health problems that affect people with diabetes.
Type 1 diabetes develops when the immune system attacks insulin-producing cells in the pancreas, so that they produce too little insulin or none at all. Type 2 diabetes typically appears later in life and is usually associated with obesity and a lack of physical activity. Prediabetes is a related condition in which blood sugar levels are rising but not high enough to meet the clinical definition of diabetes. Gestational diabetes is a type of high blood glucose that only affects pregnant women, and typically resolves after childbirth.
Managing diabetes means maintaining a balance between glucose intake and the availability of insulin. Many factors affect this balance, including diet, stress, and exercise, so people with diabetes can benefit from easy-to-use tools for calculating sugar intake, monitoring glucose levels and maintaining an overall healthy lifestyle.
How Does BlueStar Work?
BlueStar is a physician approved app for both Android and iOS devices and can be downloaded for free from leading app stores with a provider’s access code. It comes in FDA-approved versions for Type 1 and Type II diabetes, with features geared toward the specifics of each type. Currently, BlueStar is only available by prescription and the initial setup needs to be completed in consultation with a certified diabetes educator.
The Type 1 version of BlueStar works with Dexcom’s continuous glucose monitor (CGM), a wearable device that uses a sensor under the skin to report glucose levels as often as every five minutes. The app integrates this data with a user’s insulin regimen to calculate insulin doses, along with other information such as carbohydrate intake. BlueStar for Type 2 diabetes is tailored to the specific needs of Type 2 patients, with customized support based on each user’s medications, blood sugar numbers, and other factors such as diet and exercise.
The BlueStar app also includes plenty of tools for daily support, including personalized coaching and motivational messages, diabetes education, and real-time chat with doctors. Both versions of the app can adapt messaging and recommendations as a user’s metrics and medications change. The app’s collected data can also be shared with healthcare providers who can use it to review and adjust treatment plans.
How Much Does BlueStar Cost?
The BlueStar app itself is free to download, but the app is only the link between a patient and the full BlueStar program, which includes the app’s personalized tools and the ongoing support of the healthcare team. Ongoing costs run about $100 per month, but BlueStar is covered by many insurance plans, similar to prescription medications.
Alternatives to BlueStar
BlueStar isn’t the only dedicated diabetes management platform available to people with Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes. Several commercially available apps offer a variety of services and tools for tracking glucose levels, managing meals, and more.
Glucose Buddy by Azumio is free to download for Android and iOS from leading app stores. No prescription is required, and users can access the app’s features by creating an account with Azumio. The basic plan is free, but the premium plan includes feature like an A1C calculator and community support for $59.99 a year. In all plans, Glucose Buddy includes tools for tracking glucose readings, meal planning and sharing data with others.
Diabetes Manager by iTenuto Soft is for people with Type 1 diabetes who inject rapid acting insulin. Its tools include an insulin calculator, carbohydrate database and a diary for recording glucose readings and insulin doses. Users can also share data with healthcare providers. Diabetes Manager costs $4.99 from leading app stores, and developers recommend using it with the support of a healthcare provider.
mDiab from MobilDiab is a smartphone app that connects to the Mobile Diabetes platform, where users can get information and send data to their healthcare providers. mDiab has a diary feature that allows users to log information such as insulin doses, other medications and food choices for an ongoing picture of their diabetes management. mDiab is available for Android and iOS in a free version (mDiab Lite) as well as the full version for 4.99 Euro and a Pro version with pricing on request.
What People Are Saying
BlueStar users are generally pleased with the app, saying that it helps keep them on track and motivated every day. Other positive features include the vast library of motivational messages and materials for diabetes education. Some users wish that BlueStar could be simply downloaded and used with no need for prescriptions or an in-person consult with diabetes professional. Overall, though, BlueStar gets high marks for its easy-to-use interface and vast library of resources.
Diabetes is a complex condition that requires constant awareness and monitoring, but BlueStar’s professional-level tools and extensive medical support offer a user-friendly way to make life with diabetes a little easier.