Software added to basic cell phones can help patients with diabetes significantly reduce a key measure of blood sugar over one year, according to a study published in Diabetes Care, the journal of the American Diabetes Association, the Wall Street Journal reports.

The study — conducted by researchers at the University of Maryland School of Medicine — involved 163 patients and 26 primary care physicians in Baltimore and outside the Washington, D.C., area. Three groups of patients taking various diabetes medications received mobile phones with diabetes management software, while a fourth group received usual treatment.

Patients with cell phones would enter their blood glucose levels and would receive a text message if the reading was considered too high or too low. The phone also would send “retest” reminders to patients. In addition, the software allowed physicians and nurses retrieve data through a secure website. The researchers sought to compare changes in hemoglobin A1C measurements.

At the beginning of the study, the average A1C readings for patients were above 9 percent, which is considered an increased risk of developing complications such as heart, kidney and eye problems. The American Diabetes Association recommends that A1C levels be less than 7 percent.

After one year, patients using the mobile management system had an average decline in A1C levels of 1.9 percentage points, compared with a 0.7 percentage-point decrease among patients not using the mobile phone system. An average drop of one percentage point can be significant in reducing the risk of complications.

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