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HealthDesk

Review by Gretchen Becker


Special Notice

I have reviewed a lot of diabetes management programs with an emphasis on my own personal needs. I am a type 2, managing with diet and exercise, and I often test new foods by doing postprandial curves and measuring the area under the curve. Thus I was looking primarily for a program that would (1) download my Profile and OneTouch II meters, (2) allow me to sort the downloaded results according to the 15 Profile Event Codes, (3) graph curves selected by Event Codes as well as by date, and (4) print the graphs. A convenient data dump for printout as a permanent record and a nutritional program were also of interest to me.

As a non--insulin user, I was not able to review the various programs' capabilities for handing insulin or pumps. Furthermore, I often rejected a program because the logbook won't handle more than 4 or 6 entries a day, because I need that feature. The programs I rejected I tended not to spend as much time with.

But insulin users, or people who want to measure their blood glucose at four predetermined times a day and then manipulate that data in various ways might find that a program that I hated is just what they want.

Or a person using a meter that doesn't download to a particular program might find that a program I loved doesn't work for them.

Keep this in mind as you read these reviews. They are very biased toward my own needs. As always, YMMV (your mileage may vary).


SUMMARY
My first impression of this program was that I didn't like it at all. But I understand it's not aimed at the single home user as much as at a practice, which would then use it to communicate with patients. And for reasons outlined below, I didn't give it a full trial.

CON

  • It wouldn't download my Profile.

  • While trying to download, there's no kind of indicator of what's going on, so I didn't know how long to wait before giving up. Then when I tried to cancel, the system locked up. FirstAid was disabled.

  • The system locked up in other places too.

  • It's slow.

  • You couldn't even get to the meat of the program without answering a lot of stupid health questions. Balance also had a health questionnaire at the beginning, but it allowed you to skip it if you weren't interested. This one wouldn't even let you just enter a first name. Without a last name it wouldn't let you proceed. When I tried to proceed without a password the system locked up.

  • I don't think I'll try out the online resources because in order to do so you have to install IE 4. I have IE 3 installed and it works fine and I don't want to spend time with a program that might potentially cause me more problems, or at least change things slightly so the keys I'm used to hitting would work differently.

  • I briefly tried the nutrition portion and didn't like that. "Chicken breast" is listed under both "chicken breast" and "chicken-breast" so depending on whether or not you use the hyphen, you get different lists of foods. Maybe this is true of the other programs, based on the nutritional databases. I'll have to check this out. But then when I chose a chicken breast with skin and one without skin, they both gave the exact same nutritional content. Furthermore, the standard unit was "1 unit" or "1 piece" without any indication of the weight, so I didn't know what fraction to enter. There was no way of changing the units.

PRO
One plus in HealthDesk is that their tech support is fast. A human being actually answered on the second ring!!

But no suggestions worked; it simply won't download the Profile. Sometimes I get an "invalid procedure call or argument" and sometimes nothing. What is frustrating is that unlike most other programs, there's no indication of what's going on, so you don't know when to give up. When I finally do give up, I find the system locked up.

So I didn't get a chance to test much with this program.

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