Analyzing Data With One Drop
This is Part 1 of a three-part review of the most amazing One Drop diabetes phone app and will focus on Blood Sugar data analysis. It will be followed by a review of the meds and activity logging abilities in Part 2 and the Premium Experts in Part 3.
I am a data fiend. If I can measure it, I will analyze it till there’s nothing left to glean. It’s one of the reasons why I was so excited to get a Dexcom. For the first time ever I had data for every minute of my life, whether I remembered to record it or not.
The only problem was I can also be super forgetful and slothful. So even though my Dexcom is constantly collecting data, I would never get around to finding the computer cord to download the data to my computer and, soon, all of the data was lost forever.
One Drop is a phone app that focuses on three things. 1) It is an incredibly simple way to log all four types of diabetes data, blood sugar, meds, activity, and food. 2) It creates a simple way to share this data to learn from those around us. And 3) it provides powerful insights into the data it collects.
For me, the most powerful of all of these is the fact that it collects and analyzes a lot of data automatically.
With the new Dexcom G5, my data is now sent and stored in my iPhone automatically. From there the One Drop app constantly pulls the data from the iHealth app and crunches the numbers on a continual basis. And with 288 data points a day, that’s a whole lot of numbers. The best part is, after setup, I don’t have to do remember to do a thing to make it work.
Now anytime I think, I wonder how my increased workouts are affecting my numbers? or How has this illness messed with my numbers?, I open the app and see. And the ways in which it crunches my numbers is amazing.
BLOOD SUGAR ANALYSIS IN ONE SECOND
The first thing I look at is the data that shows up on my lock screen. That means I don’t even have to log into my phone to get this info. I get distracted easily, so the fewer steps before I get to my data, the better.
On this screen, I get my average daily blood sugars, the percent of time I spent in zone, percent high, and percent low for the day. I also get my total daily carbs, if I have entered my meals (more on how easy this is later) and my total daily activity (more on this also).
This screen also shows me the moments chart. Each of the four categories of info-- glucose, activity, meds, and food-- has a different color drop. So all of my info is shown to me on a graph of the day also.
BLOOD SUGAR ANALYSIS IN A FEW MINUTES
When I have a few moments of downtime—you know, when I am watching an actual live TV show whose commercials can’t be fast-forwarded—I whip open the app and see how I did for the day. In these moments I am looking for a daily reality check.
For me, that means a look at my Dexcom data analysis on the home screen of the app. All of the info from the phone’s home screen is here at the top. Below it is a listing of my “moments.”
My daily blood sugar average is the first thing to look at. This is top-left of the home screen. Easy to get to. Easy to analyze. If I can get a 150, I am dancing in the streets. A 200 and I am looking for reasons why.
But everyone is different. Your crying days may be my dancing days. My dancing days may be your crying days. The point is that it is good to know what your ideal day would look like.
I have learned when to dance and when to investigate only after using the app for a while. When I first was using the Dexcom, I had no concept of what my daily average was. I had my A1c, which very loosely translates to a 90-day average, and my finger sticks, which gave me four very distinct numbers to average, but no real concept as to what an average day was for me.
Now, at any moment, I know what an average day is. And that means, I can see exactly how good (or bad) my day was in comparison. I learned after a while, that for me a 150-day was fantastic. A 180-day was about average and a 200-day meant something went wrong.
I could now, while the day’s activities were fresh in my mind, try to figure out what went wrong and come up with a plan for what I could change. The immediacy of this data means that I can identify defeating habits and begin to make minor tweaks to how I do things.
In the pre-OneDrop days, my doctor would go over my blood sugar records (when I actually kept them twenty years ago) and say, “Here. This 284 blood sugar. What caused that?” Seriously? How the hell should I know what I ate or drank or stressed about two months ago on a random day at a random time.
Now, most days, I can actually remember what caused a high at ten that morning. Not always, but my chances are much better than two months later. Which means I can finally start identifying those minor things that affect my blood sugar.
BLOOD SUGAR ANALYSIS WITH A LITTLE MORE TIME
When I have a little more than a commercial break to analyze my diabetes, I will bust open the in depth data analysis. By touching the “TODAY” at the top of my home screen, up rolls a secret page of long-term data analysis called the Daily Moments Analysis.
It starts with today’s data, then my last 7-day’s data, the last 30-days, and then, my favorite part, data for each of the calendar months back as far as I have been using the app.
Using this, I can see year-long trends. I have noticed that my average goes down in the summer, which makes sense considering I have time off from work to lower stress, work out more, and make fresh foods to eat. Plus I love summer fruit, which is fantastic for my blood sugars. So I need to put a little more effort into my diabetes care when the weather turns cold.
I can also make small changes in my daily habits and see what kind of effect they have. So if I decide to eat more salads for lunch I can see if that has an overall impact on my glucose. I can now compare a month where I have made that change to the prior month to see if there has been any effect. I now have the data to back up the decisions I make.
BLOOD SUGAR FOR THE VISUALLY INCLINED (or the numerically timid)
My husband runs from numbers. I still think he brought on his own appendicitis to get out of his college statistics class. For him, all of the numbers on my screen can seem intimidating. For those like him, One Drop has amazing visualizations of your data.
One of the best ways to visualize you day is on the Last 7 Days in Zone Chart. This is found by swiping left on the top of the home screen. This screen shows how long you have spent in the good zone, how much and how far into the low zone you have ventured, and how often and how far you have drifted into the high zone.
If you swipe left again from this screen, four hearts show up that fill up during the day. I love watching these slowly fill. The first is the percent of time you have spent in the good blood sugar zone.
The second is the portion of your meds you have taken that day. If you give boluses or basal shots this is a great reminder to take them.
The third heart shows how many carbs you have eaten during the day in relation to the carb goal you set for yourself.
The fourth heart is my favorite. That is the activity goal. You can change the size of this goal in the settings. I use my Garmin to record my real workouts, then download them to my phone. The One Drop App pulls in this data.
That’s awesome, but the super useful part of this heart is the daily activity tracking from my iHealth app on the iPhone. I am acutely aware of when I have had a big workout or skipped a few days. But to gauge my overall activity rate throughout the day is a little more difficult.
Maybe I lectured in class that day and so I spent most of the time walking around. Or maybe I showed a video. Those two days will look very different to my overall activity level. And they will affect my blood sugars in a very different manner, too.
Now you have a way to gauge your total daily activity and can adjust things accordingly.
BLOOD SUGAR ANALYSIS FOR NON-CGM USERS...
If you do not have a Dexcom yet, don’t despair. One Drop is super easy to use with a meter. If you have a Bluetooth meter like the OneTouch VerioSync or the AccuCheck Aviva Connect, just set it up to automatically export your data.
If you have another meter, just click the blood sugar drop (it’s the cute pink circle), type in your number (or scroll it on the scroll wheel) and you are done.
There is also a great place to add notes to explain away a high or low sugar. You can add details such as how you are feeling, a photo, tags, or notes.
And if you are beaming with pride at your fabulous result (or crying inside and looking for support from the DOC) you can share the info to Facebook or Twitter, with one click of the share button.
You can also add a PRO TIP that will be shared with the One Drop community.
And even better, there is a new One Drop Meter that will automatically upload the data to the app. (More info on this, and a future review, later this year.)
If you are looking to use any of the massive amounts of data that we collect as people with diabetes without having to get a degree in Statistics, One Drop is the way to go. Grab you phone right now, download the app, and find all sorts of ways you can improve your diabetes life.
If you have --> What to do...
Just a second --> Use the Lock Screen data to see where you are now
A few minutes --> Use the app’s Home Page to look at today’s numbers and figure out why
A little more time --> Use the Daily Moment Analysis to dig deep
DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: One Drop is a current sponsor of the 2017 One Drop Caicos Adventure. I have been using and loving One Drop for years before this sponsorship. I only review products I love and use on a regular basis. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commissions 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guide Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”