Type “health trackers” into a Google search and you’ll get dozens of newly invented devices and apps all engineered to give you an array of options to help track your activity and health-related symptoms over time. Items like Google glass and Samsung’s smart watch were once considered so high-tech that they were deemed sci-fi, something Samsung understood with their tongue-in-cheek ad last year featuring clips from old sci-fi movies.
Talking into your wrist? A computer in your glasses? Embedded chips and DNA testing at your fingertips? It’s no wonder that despite the trendiness of fitness trackers like Fitbit and Nike Fuel, Americans are still by and large wary of some of the most cutting-edge devices making their way onto the health trackers market this year. Recent estimates show that at least one-sixth of American adults own one, with interest in either fitness or wellness tracking as their primary use. At least one-third of this group, however, lose interest in these devices within a year.
It may take some time for late-adopters of technology trends to discover the best ways to integrate this kind of self-tracking into their daily lives, but the point has been made. We are in the middle of a smartphone revolution and few can deny the impact this has already had on our understanding of health and the ways we communicate about health.
Patients are empowered now, more than ever, to take a proactive role in their personal health by learning how their body responds in certain situations, noting patterns, and speaking frankly with their physicians about their observations- an innovative approach to healthcare than does more to help the medical community understand health trends much more efficiently than ever before.
We are still learning more about how the role of health trackers in our lives will continue to mold a future where patient and doctor work more cohesively to tackle some of our biggest health issues. From obesity to asthma to pregnancy health, there are a number of applications that will aid patients in new, eye-opening ways. And we’re just scratching the surface.
Imagine what we could do with all of this data on the population level. How many lives could we change? How many lives could we potentially save?
There are loads of questions left to answer. Who will monitor this world and how? What about patient privacy concerns? How can we make this available to the poorest communities around the world who suffer from preventable disease on a daily basis?
My fascination with this world has grown exponentially in the last couple of months, especially as I’ve seen firsthand what some of these more innovative companies have in mind for global health with simple solutions that begin with a smartphone.
Tomorrow I will feature a guest writer who’s spoken on my blog in the past about her experience as a breast cancer survivor and how nutrition played a role in her rehabilitation. She is coming back to discuss how health tracking apps have been a beneficial resource for her clients.
This won’t be the last time you’ll hear me talk about this subject. I had an opportunity to try a FitBit, and my review is on its way. Stay tuned!
In the meantime, I’d love to hear your thoughts: What do you think about the health and fitness tracker trend? Do you own one? Do you use it?
Here are some fun infographics showing the rise of mobile health devices in the last year: