Diabetes Innovator: Tom Xu
It was the year of the first-ever iPhone, and with its launch came a great opportunity for medical apps. Tom Xu, 28, a University of California–Berkeley grad with sights set on medical school, knew a good idea when it hit him. So when Apple gave developers the go-ahead to write apps, Xu jumped at the chance to create a mobile glucose log that would help people like his grandmother, who had died from complications of type 2 diabetes the year before. He threw himself into the creation of Glucose Buddy, which was one of the first diabetes apps on the market and remains one of the most downloaded and highest-rated glucose apps.
Now that Glucose Buddy is part of Azumio, a company with a handful of health apps, Xu is working to take it to the next level. He's incorporating functions from other Azumio apps to create the mother of all mobile health programs. He's tight-lipped about current projects but says the Glucose Buddy of the future may help users track their heart rate, monitor their sleep quality (and see how it affects glucose levels), and see when they've been sitting too long. Such integration, he says, is the wave of the future. "Everyone's going to have a smartphone in the near future and keep it with them," says Xu. "It's a good gateway to making a person feel better."
For now, though, he's happy that Glucose Buddy is helping people with diabetes live in better control. He learned just how the app is changing lives at a recent conference where he met diabetes educators whose patients rely on the app.