From Canadian Healthcare Technology, April 2014
By Scott Herrmann, Director of Mobile Solutions
It seems that every year we start with the best intentions to stay fit, eat healthier and maintain healthy life style choices throughout the year. According to the University of Scranton, Journal of Clinical Psychology, losing weight and getting fit both were in the top five New Year resolutions (January 1, 2013). But how long will our goals to a healthier life last? The same study stated that 45% of Americans made New Year resolutions, however only 46% actually maintained these resolutions past six months.
So what do we need? What we are finding is that modern technology, combined with people becoming more engaged with their own health, is making it easier to meet fitness goals. For example, fitness trackers have the ability to give insight on how you sleep, move and eat. This is a significant evolution over the standard pedometer, which only measures the quantity of steps you take in a day.
Now, this may seem like an odd article to come from me, the leader of mobile solutions for a home care company. But bear with me, as I have a point.
As the popularity of fitness trackers continue to grow, so does the opportunity to create similar fitness tracking applications for smart phones. New research has found that workers who exercise are able to manage their stress levels better, which increases their efficiency and effectiveness at work and at home (coincidentally, also some of the top New Year resolutions). Russell Clayton of Saint Leo University’s Donald R. Tapia School of Business in the Harvard Business Review states “while exercise may seem like one more task to add to an already busy workday, it decreases stress, and a reduction in stress is tantamount to an expansion of time.”
So how can we leverage the use of fitness tracking applications to maintain their fitness and health goals? Can fitness trackers help us to be better engaged with our physicians through the constant health feedback we receive when we upload information? And more importantly, how will this lead to lower costs of healthcare?
Allow me to explain how this works: fitness trackers have the ability to provide that extra level of motivation to encourage you to make health conscious decisions throughout the day. For example, I chose to monitor my fitness and health goals using a mobile application. My goal for 2014 is to walk 500 miles this year. Does that sound overly ambitious? Absolutely not; by walking the dog daily and hiking each weekend, I will be able to achieve this goal. Each day I am able to sync my activity with my computer and compare my results to the previous days; allowing me to stay competitive with myself, pushing me to try harder.
At Procura our goal is to provide technology that ensures care all the way to the hospital door. Monitoring daily activity and food intake is what we call preventative healthcare, or pre-acute care. By engaging patients in their health, we can focus on lowering healthcare costs through reduced readmission and increased health self-awareness, by diminishing entering the hospital in the first place. On the post-acute side telehealth is a popular option for patients to monitor their vitals at home, but the initial cost of the machine is substantial. By engaging at the pre-acute stage, patients often find enjoyment in taking their measurements and monitoring their daily self-maintenance. For the provider or the health regions, by combining the data that is being collected at both the pre-acute and post-acute stages, imagine the possibilities for a true healthcare system, not a sick-care system.
Today there exists data about the population who have received care, but we are still missing vital information on the vast majority of people who not yet received medical attention. With this information and knowledge of lifestyles, we will be able to help the overall health and wellness of everyone around us, ultimately contributing to better treatment of care if they become sick.
Like many other years of resolutions left unfinished, good intentions without execution won’t lead to better results. It is still up to us as individuals to make ourselves want to stay healthy and fitness trackers are one way to stay inspired. Yet we are part of a massive continuum, no longer looking after our own health but also the health and wellbeing of our neighbours, friends and family.