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PCHA Blog Post: Why Should You Track Your Health

Health trackers are becoming more common and less expensive.  Trackers include everything from simple pedometers to advanced watches that including steps, distance, heart rate, and flights of stairs. It is becoming more common for trackers to be synced through Bluetooth with a smart phone and then have the data stored in the cloud.  But is tracking my health worth it? Will it work to improve my health?

Here is why:

  • We all want to improve our health. There are many reminders in the press about how we can improve our health using fitness devices and other technology.  If you have a specific medical condition, there may be an app for that which can make a difference.
  • New types of miniature sensors become available on a regular basis and are being integrated into smart phones, smart watches, activity trackers and other wearables.
  • The technology is now becoming more affordable.
  • Tools to help you understand your personal health data can influence your health. Personal health dashboards are commonly available in apps that link with devices to make monitoring your health easier.
  • In some cases, it is easy to share your personal health data with your doctor. Doctors are increasingly becoming comfortable with receiving and reviewing person generated health and wellness data. Some are even prescribing fitness trackers or using them for research.
  • The tools are more reliable but you may need help in selecting the right one. Right now, there is no “Consumer Reports” for personal connected health devices and apps. You can ask your doctor or do research on your own. You want to make sure that your data is not misused. An organization called the Vitality Institute is promoting voluntary standards which promote keeping your data private.
  • Many health apps have a social element – you can share your progress with others who are using the same device or app to help motivate you to do better.
  • The device may not be enough to maintain your desire to improve your health. Consider a health coach, either a real person or a virtual coach, which can help you continue your path to a healthy lifestyle.

So strap on a tracker, set goals and begin to improve your health. Don’t give up after one or two or three months. But if you decide to upgrade your tracking device, consider donating the old one to Recycle Health.

Learn more about wearables and health at the Connected Health Conference in DC in December.

 

Keywords: 
patient engagement; Health IT