More and more sophisticated technology is increasingly becoming a part of our everyday lives. For most of us, it’s hard to remember what we did before we had such easy and constant access to instant communication or to important information like maps or banking information. This technology offers many opportunities to improve our quality of life, including our health. Below are five ways that you can use technology to help ensure that you have access to the medical care that you need and that you are making the optimal choices to help you remain healthy.
In the early part of the 20th century, doctors still made house calls. This practice gradually ended, and for decades, if you wanted medical care, you had to go into a doctor’s office, a clinic, or a hospital. Telehealth cannot quite replace in-person medical care, so an increase in its use does not mean this has come full circle, but it does mean that we are much closer to the days of house calls than we have been for a very long time.
This approach has several benefits, giving people a low-cost way to check on troubling symptoms or chronic illnesses without having to make an appointment to go in and see a medical provider every time. It also allows people in hard-to-access locations to get medical advice. People in all walks of life can benefit from being able to access medical care remotely. For example, one all-in-one telehealth provider focuses specifically on student needs at colleges. This provider can supplement both physical and mental health services on college campuses. You can look over a guide to see how important adequate mental health care services are for student decisions about what school to attend.
Whether you have been feeling fatigued, but you are not sure whether poor sleep is to blame, or you suspect you might be suffering from a sleep disorder, trackers can be a great way to get some preliminary information on your sleeping habits. In addition to giving, you more information about the rest you are getting, some of these devices can also help you get a better night of rest. Devices may be wearable, or they might attach to your bed or sit next to it.
Some primarily measure motion while others measure your heart rate. They can provide information on how much you sleep as well as the quality of it. Many medical professionals say that the jury is still out on how accurate they are, but they might give you an idea of whether you need to seek out an actual sleep study. They may also offer suggestions of how to improve your sleep hygiene and can track other activities, like exercise or drinking caffeine late in the day, that may affect your rest at night.
Once used only by elite athletes, fitness trackers are now available for everyone. They range from free apps you can download on your phone to wearable devices that you can spend hundreds of dollars on. Most track a huge variety of activities, from popular exercises like running, walking, swimming, and cycling to sports like rock climbing and everyday activities like vacuuming. If you are thinking of buying one, some factors to consider include how accurate you need the device to be, if you need a waterproof device and how much battery power you want. You should also think about how much and what kind of data you want about your performance.
Another attractive feature for many users is a social aspect that allows you to post your progress to popular social media platforms. Many apps allow you to add friends and operate somewhat like social media platforms themselves. These social features can offer motivation as can the ability to set and fulfill goals, and some will send you reminders to do things like get up from your desk and stretch or walk around the office.
Making the right nutrition choices is a huge part of maintaining health. Whether you are trying to add in or avoid specific foods, stay below a particular calorie level, track macronutrients, or you just want to keep track of what you are eating to try to ensure that you are generally making good choices, devices that help you track your food can be a big boost to your health. You do not have to use them constantly to get a benefit from them either.
Tracking your intake from time to time can be a good way to get a snapshot of where your eating habits are and give you some information on how you could improve. Most of these come in the form of free apps although there are generally extra features you can get if you pay. Barcode scanners for processed food, pre-loaded information about menu items in chain restaurants, and the opportunity to create or participate in challenges are just a few of the features that make these so easy to use and effective. Many also offer tips, articles on nutrition, and access to forums or chats so that you can get support from other users and cheer on their efforts as well.
There was a time when the only tools people had for monitoring their health at home might be a thermometer unless they had special medical needs, such as high blood pressure or diabetes. Now, free apps or small portable home devices can check your heart rate, your oxygen saturation, and your glucose levels among other things. You might even be able to use your phone to access your electronic health record although there may be security issues that you need to keep in mind.
You may be able to integrate your vital sign readings with all your other information, including fitness, food, and sleeping, on one platform. Devices are also becoming more useful for monitoring or helping you manage chronic conditions, from irritable bowel syndrome to multiple sclerosis to diabetes and more. The ease of tracking and recording this information also means that you may be able to provide your doctor with more robust information.