A systematic review of IT for diabetes self-management: Are we there yet?

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BACKGROUND: Recent advances in information technology (IT) coupled with the increased ubiquitous nature of information technology (IT) present unique opportunities for improving diabetes self-management. The objective of this paper is to determine, in a systematic review, how IT has been used to improve self-management for adults with Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes.

METHODS: The review covers articles extracted from relevant databases using search terms related information technology and diabetes self-management published after 1970 until August 2012. Additional articles were extracted using the citation map in Web of Science. Articles representing original research describing the use of IT as an enabler for self-management tasks performed by the patient are included in the final analysis.

RESULTS: Overall, 74% of studies showed some form of added benefit, 13% articles showed no-significant value provided by IT, and 13% of articles did not clearly define the added benefit due to IT. Information technologies used included the Internet (47%), cellular phones (32%), telemedicine (12%), and decision support techniques (9%). Limitations and research gaps identified include usability, real-time feedback, integration with provider electronic medical record (EMR), as well as analytics and decision support capabilities.

CONCLUSION: There is a distinct need for more comprehensive interventions, in which several technologies are integrated in order to be able to manage chronic conditions such as diabetes. Such IT interventions should be theoretically founded and should rely on principles of user-centered and socio-technical design in its planning, design and implementation. Moreover, the effectiveness of self-management systems should be assessed along multiple dimensions: motivation for self-management, long-term adherence, cost, adoption, satisfaction and outcomes as a final result.

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