BALTIMORE (WJZ)—Mobile phones can help us communicate, organize and navigate our lives. And now there’s proof they can even manage chronic illnesses.

Mary Bubala reports on a breakthrough in mobile medicine.

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A yearlong clinical study by researchers at the University Of Maryland School Of Medicine has answered an important question: can software added to cell phones help people with type two diabetes control their blood sugar?

The answer is yes.

Charlene Quinn is the principal investigator of the study, which found a key measure of blood sugar control– the amount of hemoglobin a1c in a person’s blood– was lowered by an average of 1.9 percent in patients using the mobile health software.

“It is also to our knowledge the first randomized clinic study of mobile health,” Quinn said. “So this is an emerging field of mobile health science, and we feel the study has made an important contribution.

The software is made by a local company called Well Doc. It acts as a virtual coach to a person with diabetes.

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After taking a reading with a glucose monitor, a patient turns to their mobile phone.

“I put in the reading that I got from the test and they give you a message: ‘your sugar is a little bit above target,’ ‘keep at it,’ ‘you’ll get there,’” said Bill Lee, diabetes patient.

Then patients and their doctors can access the information and monitor progress online.

 “I am ready to embrace technology,” Lee said.

Lee has lived with diabetes for 27 years. He says mobile monitoring could help him control his condition on the go.

“It would tell you how much insulin to take if it was too low, it would tell you to retest in 15 minutes then you would plug those results in and it would tell you where to go from there,” Lee explained.

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The FDA has approved Well-Doc’s software called Diabetes Manager System.  It should be available through health care plans and doctors later this year.