Using Technology to Monitor Your Health
Today, technology offers many tools to help you keep tabs on your health—at home or on the go. From monitoring your blood pressure or blood sugar to measuring the miles you walk or the quality of your sleep—you can have more and more information at your fingertips.1
Benefits of health trackers. Many devices were first created to allow curious people to simply track their own health status. This includes trackers that count your daily steps or smartphone apps for tracking your daily intake of calories.2
Today, some health trackers and wearable devices allow you to collect and transmit data wirelessly to your doctor. This is called remote patient monitoring (RPM). It can alert you and your health care providers if you enter any “danger zones.” Then you can take action and get the medical care you need before you get into deep trouble. Other kinds of devices are attached to walkers, canes, or people to alert caregivers if a patient has fallen.1
Programs now also use devices like these to support patients who have chronic diseases such as heart conditions, diabetes, or dementia. When used effectively, health trackers may help reduce the number of doctor visits you need and may lower hospital readmission rates, costs, and deaths.3
Room for improvement. Of course, not all health trackers measure up to the hype. For example, special sensors put into mattresses can detect heartbeats, breathing, and other movements. A computer at the mattress company then assesses these numbers and can send a message to your smartphone, telling you how well you slept. But can it spot sleep disorders or heart rate conditions? It’s not quite there yet. 3
And, by its very nature, this kind of technology relies heavily upon you, the consumer, to be successful. Will you remember to use the device? Are you tech savvy? Will you be motivated to keep using it? Can you afford it? Do you live in a place where wireless technology is reliable? 2 Other issues also need addressing. One important one? Protecting patients’ medical information.
Hope for the future. One thing is sure: As technology improves, so does the accuracy of devices like these. And that means health trackers may play a much bigger role in the future. 3 In fact, it may not be long before wearable devices enter what feels a little like the world of science fiction. For example, a new smart wristband already has the ability to measure blood cell counts in your bloodstream.2,4
In the meantime, do you need help separating helpful gadgets from the gimmicks? Let’s talk. We can discuss whether you might benefit from more actively monitoring your health with the help of technology. Yes, high-tech tools are exciting. But teaming up with your doctor and other health care professionals remains absolutely essential to keep you as healthy as possible.
Nothing herein constitutes medical advice, diagnosis or treatment, or is a substitute for professional advice. You should always seek the advice of your physician or other medical professional if you have questions or concerns about a medical condition.
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