MADAM Wan Noorinn did not feel confident about managing diabetes well when she was diagnosed in 2012.
She experienced increased backaches and had difficulty sleeping with the onset of the condition. She also found it hard to change her diet, admitting that she did not consume enough vegetables and skipped breakfast often.
But the 49-year-old has succeeded in making changes to her lifestyle, thanks to a mobile app called GlycoLeap, which helps users to control their diabetes and make improvements to their condition.
Madam Noorinn joined the GlycoLeap beta trial programme in June last year and told dietitians through the app that she wanted to take small steps towards changing her diet.
With the help of the app, she mixed a bit of brown rice into white to adjust to the taste. Slowly, she reduced her portions of carbs and at the same time introduced vegetables in her meals.
Madam Noorinn, who described herself as fussy and selective when it comes to food, said that with nudges from GlycoLeap's dietitians, she slowly and steadily introduced changes to her diet.
Now, she is controlling her condition well. "The reading for my glucose level used to be high as 24, but it has dropped to four, since I started getting advice from dietitans on the app," she said.
There are approximately 2,000 such users around the world using GlycoLeap to introduce changes to their diet and get feedback from dietitians on how they can manage their condition.
The app is the brainchild of Mr Nawal Roy, who was inspired to do something in 2015 after reading a sentence in The Economist that said - "For the first time in human history, more people die from chronic diseases than infectious diseases."
It triggered the start of his research into chronic diseases and he realised that there was a gap in the care system. "Chronic diseases, particularly diabetes, are a very large problem. The care doesn't happen until it becomes serious and I couldn't find a solution that takes care of the condition in the early part of the disease," said Mr Roy, who was born in Bihar but moved to the US to do his master of science in quantitative finance and master of arts in economics at the University of Cincinnati and then worked there for 13 years.
The 47-year-old American citizen came to Singapore to join McKinsey & Company as a junior partner in 2010. He set up HelloPay, a payment solutions company, in 2013 but left to explore other opportunities a year later.
Thinking of the gap he found in the care system of chronic diseases and a solution to change it, Mr Roy set up Holmusk in 2015 and produced GlycoLeap over two beta versions, before launching it in June last year.
How it works
It is an all-in-one management app for diabetics that allows users to track their diet, blood sugar and weight through both connected devices and in-app services.
It can also be used by those who are more genetically disposed to developing diabetes so they can make the necessary preventative lifestyle changes. Those who have Type 1 diabetes can use the app in consultation with their doctor.
Along with the app, users will receive a connected weighing scale, a glucometer set, a fitness tracker, a weight loss guide and a local food manual. The manual gives the nutrition content of local fare and provides tips on portion control and recommends a diet that is relevant for diabetics.
On the GlycoLeap app, users can take pictures of their meals and it will be automatically uploaded into the system. Dietitians will then rate a user's meals based on a unique food scoring system.
"The intent is not to give users immediate feedback but give them feedback on what they have eaten and what changes they can make," shared Mr Roy.