GlicOnline’s Mobile Health Application Improves Quality of Life for Patients with Diabetes: Sao Paulo, Brazil

Rationale / Objectives

Rationale/Objectives: More than 5% of Brazil’s population was estimated to be diabetic in 2014, and this percentage was expected to grow. Difficulty in calculating insulin dosages was a factor affecting the wellness and quality of life of diabetic patients. Karla Melo, a specialist in Endocrinology and Metabolism, and a type 1 diabetic herself, wanted to equip diabetic patients with the tools needed to better control their insulin intake and manage other aspects of the disease to achieve more normalcy in their lives. 2

Project/Program Description & Major Achievements

GlicOnline permitted registered patients with mobile phones and internet access to receive real-time insulin dose calculations and treatment changes from their physicians based on blood sugar and nutritional logs entered by the patient. Improved quality of life was reported by 94.74% of patients who used GlicOnline. Improvement in work, school and home performance was reported by almost 95% of patients who used GlicOnline. 2

Lessons Learned

GlicOnline experienced challenges in market penetration due to the novel nature of their product, which they found required potential users to accept that alternatives to traditional treatment existed and to adapt their thinking. The absence of a law to give patients responsibility for their insulin prescriptions could have been a deterrent for physicians hesitant about being held accountable for any incidents stemming from use of the application. The GlicOnline team could benefit from expanding their training and support services, in order to grow and maintain their client base. The biggest challenge they faced, however, was funding. GlicOnline’s framework can be applied in the management of other chronic diseases as well. Private insurance companies could benefit from reduced spending on complications due to diabetes, fewer treatments and fewer examinations. 2

People / Organizations Involved

Further Description

In 1999, Dr.Karla Melo developed a method for determining insulin shot dosage based on glycemic level, routine and diet. Engineer Floro Daria developed the Java-based software that enabled rapid calculations and became the vehicle for her method in 2002. GlicOnline was incorporated in 2004, and with funding from the Sao Paulo Research Foundation, the technology was further developed and adapted for mobile phones. GlicOnline partnered with Abbott Labs and Novo Nordisk. GlicOnline functioned as a telemedicine service, with the capability of providing an instant connection between patients and physicians. Doctors registered their patients in the system. GlicOnline trained doctors who taught their patients how to upload their health information. The application provided a list of over 600 types of food. GlicOnline determined the patients’ glycemic levels and nutrient intake, and the amount of insulin needed. When an internet connection was available, the information was uploaded to the server. Insulin prescriptions were stored online for each patient so their progress could be tracked. Physicians were able to monitor their patients and alter treatment plans at any time. 2

Major Achievements

Metric Result Additional Detail
Quality of life Improved for 94.74% of patients 2
Diet flexibility Improved for 84.21% of patients 2
Performance at work/school/home Improved for 94.74% of patients 2
Feeling of being sick Improved for 68.42% of patients 2