A review of Diabetes Management software for the Palm OS

(Palm Pilots and their clones).

by John Hughes jawnh@hotmail.com March 25, 2002

I ran all of the following programs on a Handspring Visor Deluxe with 8MB of memory. It was running the Palm OS v3.0.1H.

The reviewed programs are shareware or freeware, except for ezManager which is a commercial product from Animas Corp.


Reviewers note: From the programs reviewed, there is not a single one that does everything I want, so I would love to be able to combine features in different products. ;-) I think ezManager shows the most promise, but I have also spoken to the author of GlucoPilot and he claims to be working on another version. I like GlucoPilot's ability to produce a graph of my bg values right on the Palm. Everyone else makes you transfer the data to a PC and graph it in their companion program or something like Excel. So call me a graph geek, but I like the instant feedback of the graphs at any time and/or place.

Here's a quick run down on each program:

ezManager - most expensive option, but in my opinion, the best long-term potential. It allows you to log Blood Glucose readings, meals, insulin, and activity. The user can enter in their data for carb-to-insulin and insulin-to-carb ratios, and the software will compute carbohydrate or insulin dosages. For example, if your blood glucose is above your target value, then it will compute the necessary insulin dosage to get you back within your target range. It will do the same for carbs if you are below your target range. This feature needs to be turned on in the "Settings" dialog because it is turned off by default. There is also a food database that you can use to put together meal information and track the carbohydrates (and fat, protein, etc.).

ezManager Desktop is a companion program that runs on Windows and gives you additional features not found on the Palm version. This program will let you produce graphs and reports from the data entered on the Palm. If you enter data in the Windows software, you can then Hotsync with the Palm and the data is shown in both applications. The Desktop software will also allow you to have more than one user profile, so you can manage the data of more than one diabetic.

One thing to note, as of February 12, 2002 ezManager is at a "first release" stage. The program works well and never crashes, but do not expect it to do everything in a wonderful fashion. It still needs some work, but Animas is actively working to improve it. An example of where it needs to get better: You CANNOT edit a record on the Palm after you have saved it. Yep, you're probably thinking the same thing I did. You can edit the data once you transfer it to the Desktop program on Windows. Also, they do NOT have any online help in either the Palm or Windows programs, and the user manual stinks, but that is just my opinion.

ezManager sells for $99.99 US or $69.99 US for users of an Animas insulin pump. See the following link for more information: http://www.animascorp.com/products/pr_ezmanager.shtml

GlucoPilot - easy to use, allows you to view graphs on Palm, best editing capabilities on the palm. This package allows you to track BG values, Carb values, Bolus or shot information, notes, etc. You can Filter by Record Type and Category; export records to CSV format for import into spreadsheet programs; do Pie, Line, Scatter, and Histogram charting; and generate text reports too. All on the Palm. This program has the MOST editing capabilities of any diabetes management program on the Palm in my opinion. When you look at the main screen, it will show a log of your data. This can be ALL data or filtered data. If you tap on the time, you can edit the time. If you tap on the date, you can edit the date. Or select the row in the data and tap on the Details... button to edit the entire record. Also, if you tap on the icon in the bottom left corner of the Palm display, it will show you a set of pull-down menus. If you cannot find something, use this method and you will find it. GlucoPilot has online help that you get to by tapping on the question mark (?) in a dialog. It also comes with a fairly nice user manual.

Another nice feature in my opinion is when you plot a line chart, you can tap on any of the data points to view information about that record. I mentioned that GlucoPilot can filter data based on a category and the user can create their own categories if the predefined ones are not sufficient. Also, GlucoPilot has a Quick Summary line at the bottom of the Main screen that will show a value the user can select from the drop-down list. It shows Today's Glucose Average by default, but can also show total Glucose Ave., Glucose Minimum, Glucose Maximum, etc.

GlucoPilot does not calculate carbs or insulin dosages, and it does NOT contain a food database. It can track carbs, but you have to enter the data.

GlucoPilot's author, Scott Hanselman, is currently giving GlucoPilot a face lift and a new version should be available soon. I know color support is one of the items he's adding. For more info, contact Scott by email at scott@hanselman.com

GlucoPilot is shareware with a price of $29 US. It can be obtained from http://www.hanselman.com/glucopilot/

DiabetesPilot - It looks similar to GlucoPilot, but instead of graphs, they went with a carb database and allow you to track meals. When you look at how the data is presented, this program looks almost identical to GlucoPilot, but it does NOT have all of the wonderful editing capabilities. By this I mean that you can only edit the entire record, instead of using the shortcuts contained in GlucoPilot. However, it does have a food database and helps you compute carbs and such. It also has a nice reporting feature that shows your average glucose for the past 7, 30, 60, or 90 days.

DiabetesPilot is available as shareware for $24 US and the author will donate 25% of the proceeds to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. Download it from: http://www.diabetespilot.com

The following programs are a significant step down from the ones already mentioned. They are either free or cheaper than GlucoPilot, DiabetesPilot, or ezManager, and in my opinion you are getting what you pay for.

Insulin+ - VERY confusing interface. This author was mainly concerned with tracking his inventory of diabetic supplies. Inventory tracking is the main emphasis of the program, although it does track bg readings too. In my opinion, you can get something that is better at tracking your blood sugars or has a food database for the same money or less than Insulin+.
It is shareware with a price of $30 US and is available from: http://www.palmix.itil.com/newpalmix/products/insulin_home.htm

GlucoseDiary - fairly simplistic, but has a reporting facility that GlucoMonitor does not. I did get this one to crash a couple of times, so in my opinion I would not use it until the author resolves the crash problem. This is shareware with a price of $10 US and is available from http://www.palmgear.com

DiabeticMonitor - Odd user interface in my opinion, although not too hard to figure out. Tracks bg, insulin, weight/exercise, food, blood pressure. This is shareware with a price of $10 US and is available from http://www.palmgear.com

Gluco-Log - easy to use bg tracking software. Not too fancy, but has the basics. This is the v1.0 version from the author, so future versions may get better. It is shareware with a price of $7 US and is available from http://www.palmgear.com

Gluco-Pass - easy to use, handles basic bg tracking, also tracks weight, pulse, bp, cholesterol. This is shareware with a price of $7 US and is available from http://www.palmgear.com

That is my quick overview of the programs listed and my opinion as to their usefulness. ezManager has the most features, but is also the most expensive. DiabetesPilot and GlucoPilot are good shareware alternatives to ezManager at a cheaper price.

I personally like using GlucoPilot and I use CarbCheck with it. CarbCheck is a freeware food database available from http://clix.to/peachbud

My unofficial ranking of the reviewed programs is shown below. This ranking is listed in a descending order, which means that 1 is the best and 9 is the lowest ranking. This ranking was determined on my subjective view of the price/value ratio of each program.

  1. ezManager
  2. GlucoPilot and / or DiabetesPilot
  3. Gluco-Log
  4. Gluco-Pass
  5. DiabeticMonitor
  6. GlucoseMonitor
  7. GlucoseDiary
  8. Insulin+
  9. Gluco-trak
If you are shopping for Palm based software for Diabetes Management, or some other kind of software, http://www.palmgear.com is a very good location. If you are looking for diabetes management software for other platforms (Newton, MAC, Windows, etc.) you should try http://www.mendosa.com/software.htm

The comments contained in this article are only the personal opinion of the author.

Copyright (c) 2002, Insulin Pumpers and John Hughes

Permission to use, copy, distribute this document for any purpose is hereby granted, provided that the author's / editor's name and this notice appear in all copies and/or supporting documents; and that an unmodified version of this document is made freely available. This document is distributed in the hope that it will be useful, but WITHOUT ANY WARRANTY, either expressed or implied. While every effort has been taken to ensure the accuracy of the information documented herein, the author / editor / maintainer assumes NO RESPONSIBILITY for any errors, or for any damages, direct or consequential, as a result of the use of the information documented herein.