Joseph Rihel, after struggling to
      manage his diabetes for more than a decade, learned to control
      the disease using a new tool: personalized coaching and
      monitoring via his mobile phone.

      Rihel entered his glucose reading into the phone several
      times a day for a year to help test WellDoc Inc.’s
      DiabetesManager application. When the blood-sugar level was too
      low or high, the 69-year-old retiree received a return message
      with specific advice on adjusting his diet or medicine.

      DiabetesManager is the only software medical device cleared
      by U.S. regulators for real-time Type 2 diabetes medication and
      treatment coaching in adults, said Chris Bergstrom, Baltimore-
      based WellDoc’s chief strategy and commercial officer. As many
      as 300,000 diabetics served by health-care manager Alere Inc. (ALR)
      will have access to the service through a partnership with ATT
      Inc. (T)
      announced Aug. 8. Such a tool may help blunt effects of the
      disease, which afflicts 25.8 million people in the U.S.

      “The object is not to let diabetes control you, but to
      control diabetes,” said Rihel, of Pasadena, Maryland, who was
      in a trial of the app four years ago.

      The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates
      one in three U.S. adults could come down with diabetes by 2050.
      Diabetes is caused by the body’s inability to use or produce the
      hormone insulin, which converts blood sugar into energy.

      Alere’s shares rose less than 1 percent to $18.78 at 10:04
      a.m. New York time.

      Dire Consequences

      Improper management of a diabetic’s insulin is prevalent
      and has dire consequences including blindness and amputation,
      said Pamela Allweiss, a medical officer in the CDC’s division of
      diabetes translation. Apps like DiabetesManager could help,
      Allweiss said.

      “It’s a wonderful way to reach people you might not have
      reached before,” Allweiss said. “It’s major technology.”

      DiabetesManager is one of a “handful” of medical apps
      cleared by the Food and Drug Administration, Erica Jefferson, a
      spokeswoman for the agency, said in an e-mail. Approved apps
      include a smartphone-based ultrasound and an imaging app that
      lets health-care workers view such images as X-rays, she said.

      Closely held WellDoc won approval for its app in 2010 and
      reached an agreement later that year to provide the service to
      ATT’s workers starting in 2011. Chicago-based insurer Health
      Care Service Corp. last year paired with ATT to provide
      DiabetesManager for its employees.

      Financial Details

      Alere, based in Waltham, Massachusetts, and ATT declined
      to comment on the financial details of their agreement. Eleanor
      Chye, executive director of mobile health-care at Dallas-based
      ATT, said her company invested significantly in the project.

      The system provides patients with real-time medical
      coaching through a medical software system equipped with
      WellDoc-designed, clinical standard-based automated feedback,
      Bergstrom said. With the Alere partnership, it will also send
      data back to case managers at the company who can call or send
      messages to patients for additional coaching, he said.

      “There is a correlation between control and reducing
      complications,” said Matt Petersen, managing director of
      medical information for the American Diabetes Association.
      “There is every reason for people to be using these new tools.
      With the existing tools, people are not achieving their goals.”

      WellDoc’s Bergstrom declined to say how much the company
      charges for the DiabetesManager app and how many people it wants
      to cover. The service will only be available through health-care
      management providers and companies, so employers usually would
      pay for it, he said.

      “It’s really ready for wider distribution,” Bergstrom
      said. “We are talking to most of the disease management
      companies and a couple of large employers.”

      Rihel, the diabetic retiree, said DiabetesManager taught
      him how to maintain a healthy blood-sugar level.

      “By the end of the trial I knew how to control my
      diabetes,” he said.

      To contact the reporter on this story:
      Jeanna Smialek in New York at

      To contact the editor responsible for this story:
      Reg Gale at