Dr. Jennifer Dyer, MD, MPH, who describes herself as a “stylish pediatric endocrinologist,” is also known as something else to more than 6,000 followers on Twitter: an EndoGoddess. “Everybody with diabetes calls their doctor their Endo,“ she says, “and one of my little patients who calls herself a pink lady, she’s really just adorable and cute and sparkly, she’d always call me an EndoGoddess because I liked to be sparkly, too. So it just kind of stuck.”
The name EndoGoddess has since inspired a massive Twitter following, a blog, and most recently an app tailored specifically to diabetes patients created in part by eProximiti, the same guys who are developing Duet Health.
Dr. Dyer says the idea for the app came from the simple realization that teenagers like texting…a lot.
“I had just read an article in a peer review journal called Pediatrics that was about how teenage liver transplant patients that were facing having to have another liver transplant actually remembered to take their medicine better when they got texts,” she says. “And I thought it was really powerful because it saved quite a few liver transplants which is a humongous deal, so I thought well, maybe that would help with diabetes.”
“I decided to text my patients so I texted them from my phone without any app or anything, and they did do better with their medicine. Their diabetes report card as I call it, it actually improved quite a bit, and for any kind of clinical trial or anything having to do with diabetes, it would be like a massive headline about the improvement that it made.”
The EndoGoddess app, available now at the app store, allows you to record your glucose, dietary carbs, and insulin levels. The more consistently it is recorded, the more points you earn that can eventually be put towards buying songs on iTunes. The app also allows you to set reminders to record your data, view your history, and share your data.
It may seem like the app is tailored more towards a younger generation, but Dr. Dyer says tech-savvy patients of all ages have been using the app. Tracking your insulin levels in exchange for iTunes songs sounds like a pretty good deal to me.
Dr. Dyer has already been hearing success stories from doctors who have patients using the app.
“I actually just got an email from a physician in Portland, Oregon who has been recommending the EndoGoddess app to her patients Particularly her younger patients,” she says. “And one of her patients who has had Type 1 diabetes for several years has just been really hating it, and when this doctor told her patient about this app, her face lit up.”
“It’s just the fact that it’s part of something she loves, which is her phone. It actually allows her to integrate her diabetes into something that she loves, and that can make her be healthier.”
“So not only is the girl, the patient, doing better, but the doctor was really excited to have a tool in her toolbox to offer this girl that understandably doesn’t want to have diabetes, but something that could give her joy. It’s rewarding on so many levels.”
The idea of having interactive healthcare information right at your fingertips extends beyond just EndoGoddess. The Duet Health app coming at the end of the month is just another example in a growing industry. Mobile health in general is still a fairly new idea, but it’s something Dr. Dyer is very excited about. She encourages more doctors to give mobile health a chance.
“Mobile health is really new, and when things are new, doctors are kind of ‘hmm’ about it, but I think we’re still waiting for it to really explode on the scene,” she says. “It hasn’t quite exploded on the scene in the way that I think it will. And I think it’ll be kind of like, how did we live without the internet? It’ll be sort of like that obvious infiltration into our lives, but right now it’s not there yet.”
“Ultimately the reason a physician would want to use it is because it makes their patients healthier,” she says. “(Using mobile health apps) primarily helps doctors by being a good tool for patients.”
“I’d love to see more doctors doing this, and being part of this, and celebrating that we can make things better for our patients and it makes things better for us as doctors.”
“But you do have to take a leap of faith, it does take a lot of courage, but it is way worth it.”
So what do you think? Are you an advocate of mobile health? Do you think it’s worth the leap of faith? Tweet us your thoughts at @duethealth!