The Power of Mobile Health: #scio13

Oct 12 2012 Published by under General Health

The other day I made a grocery run. About halfway to the store, I realized that my phone still rested on my kitchen counter, and I seriously though about going back for it. What if the car broke down?

Never mind that the first 35 years of my life I had left my home without a phone and somehow survived.

Now our phones do far more than provide communication lifelines. They give us instant access to the wealth of the internet, including information and entertainment.

For Science Online 2013, I will help moderate a session on mobile health technology. There are several aspects to this issue, and over the next 3 months I will blog about some of them. Mobile technology allows me, as a physician, to have almost instant access to a wealth of information.  When I am on call, I can pull up medical records at home and double-check the medications the patient is relaying.

Patients can also use these devices to access information. Apps also allow us (I'm a patient, too) to track our health. How can we make these ubiquitous devices even more helpful? Could they become virtual health coaches?

The latest FitBit

Example one: FitBit.

FitBit makes a number of devices to help track your activity. This tiny item provides more than a step count. It uses the power of our wired world to track distance walked and its altimeter tracks "flights of stairs" climbed. I put that in quotes because a day out trekking in an area with few stairs resulted in 15 flights based on the hills. A soft wristband lets you sleep with it, and it will track how long it takes for you to quit moving, how many times you get up, and how well you sleep. The software for smartphones and computer provides a diet log; however, you can also link the device to Lose It!, MapMyRun, and other popular fitness programs.

You can also find fitness buddies and follow each other via the FitBit web site.

I lost 8 pounds in the first 3 months I had my FitBit. Unfortunately, my son came home from college and constant exposure to freshly cooked bacon and salty snack foods undid my efforts. I am back on track at the gym. Now I just have to get back on track with healthier eating again.

Science Online falls at the end of January, a time when many of us are slipping in our New Year fitness resolutions. Perhaps we should form a Science Online virtual fitness group. Maybe the FitBit folks would give us a special offer on their new device that includes Bluetooth so it can synch directly with a mobile phone!

If you're interested, let me know in the comments below or via email {pascalelane at gmail} and I will contact the company.

6 responses so far

  • Genomic Repairman says:

    I've been using a FitBit for almost a year and a half now and love it.

  • Chris B. says:

    I really enjoy my Fitbit, but I don't feel like I need a bluetooth version. Syncing when charging is just fine. And I prefer my keyring for carrying. Doesn't look like the new one has a built-in loop.

  • becca says:

    That is pretty cool!

  • I have been thinking about getting a fitbit based on all the positive things I hear about it in the twittersphere. If u do contact them for a discount hope I can get one without coming to Scio this year.

  • Karyn says:

    I have been using a Fitbit (the older version) since April. I love it! Except for when I jump in the pool with it on 🙁

    I would love to get the new Bluetooth version! I'd love for it to be able to sync to my iPhone!

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