How Smartphone Technology May Provide Support People Need to Stay Healthy and Productive

Unplanned absenteeism due to diabetes costs $20 billion annually

Deirdre Wheat

By: Deirdre Wheat, MD, MPH, MMedSci, FACMQ, FACPM
Medical Director, Quality, Disease & Case Management
Independent Health


Aside from the serious impact diabetes has on an individual’s health, the chronic condition has concerning implications for businesses across the country.  In fact, two recent studies quantify the economic costs of diabetes in terms of lost productivity and absenteeism:

Successful self-management of diabetes often depends on lifestyle change and support.  While clinicians do all they can to take care of their patients, it’s during the time between appointments that people with diabetes may benefit from extra help and guidance.  Of course, optimizing self-management between appointments is easier said than done without the right tools and resources.

This is when technology can help. Independent Health

Smartphone technology provides the opportunity to give people with chronic conditions tailored, ongoing support to successfully manage their conditions between appointments.

With that in mind, Independent Health has partnered with Brook, an innovative company that has created a smartphone-enabled assistant for people with diabetes.

Available for free to both iPhone and Android smartphone users, Brook uses a blend of technology and diabetes experts, such as registered dietitians and certified diabetes educators, to provide personalized feedback and guidance to users.

Support from Brook has helped users stay on track with their self-care, which can help minimize issues leading to absenteeism and lost productivity. Users are able to:

  • Securely store their historic diabetes data—blood glucose readings, medications, food and activity;
  • Connect Brook to wireless fitness trackers and other devices, so it can provide insight into which behaviors are working to keep glucose levels in a healthy and safe zone.
  • Receive personalized lifestyle support, feedback and guidance based on their daily activity and answers to questions.
  • Obtain support from both interaction with Brook diabetes experts, and the sharing of ideas and resources by Brook users in the community forum.

The Brook personal assistant can be downloaded for free at

Providing opportunities for better long-term health among the workforce can help address the drivers of health care costs.  Moreover, addressing chronic conditions such as diabetes is particularly important for employers to maintain a productive and competitive workforce.  Smartphone resources, like the Brook personal assistant, can provide meaningful support to people with chronic conditions, helping them to maintain healthy working lives.

Disclaimer: The above commentary entails the views of the author and not necessarily the views of the Buffalo Niagara Partnership.