Don’t you love your ‘smart phone’? It provides email, internet, camera, calendar, weather etc. – and then those apps! Smart phones allow individual users to install, configure and run applications (apps) of their choosing – like the Nike training app for your exercise routine or the Starbucks app for your favorite coffee.
So much for the fun part of apps – will a hi-tech ‘app’ help you to be healthier?
Applications for medical-related uses have exploded — a recent report by the Healthcare Information Management System Society tabbed the number at about 17,000 and growing — for use on smartphones and other electronic devices
Two examples of digital health apps are:
* The “Bant app”, a free download through iTunes named after Canadian insulin developer Frederick Banting, that’s aimed at helping patients better control their diabetes.
* Concussion questions? Hockey Canada has an app for free concussion awareness information meant for parents and coaches when it comes to helping a hurt child return to the sport.
A digital health app allows “the patient to engage in what we call self-care, especially when it comes to chronic conditions like diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cancer”says Dr. Joseph Cafazzo, a biomedical engineer who heads the Centre for Global eHealth Innovation, which develops medical-related apps at the University Health Network in Toronto.
In reshaping health care in the next three years, mobile health will improve the convenience (46%), cost (52%), and quality (48%) of patients’ healthcare, according to aPricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) survey of consumers, payers, and physicians in both developed and emerging markets around the world.
Can an app – a technological tool – motivate an individual to take good care of themselves? Dr. Cafazzo sees the advantage when patients start to be more involved in their health care. They find out what works for them and find ways of incorporating personal technology to better their overall health.
But apps aren’t meant to replace doctors or other health providers. Mobile and online technology has not been successful in tackling basic health problems as tech savvy users – at first motivated by the new app – tend to get distracted and move on to new apps. That means the health app often becomes less effective because consistency in a health routine is crucial to improving well-being. In today’s ever busy pace of life, it may be difficult to shake the distractions and find a way to take better care of ourselves. But, here too “apps” can help. Mental health apps are available to help people find a balance.
Here are 5 mental health apps suggested in an article in Psychology Today by Dr. Saedi:
1) Health/Nutrition Apps
2) Sleep Apps
3) Mood Tracking Apps
4) Gratitude Apps
5) Mindfulness (Meditation) Apps
Gratitude and mindfulness? Sure. Studies show that gratitude can increase levels of well-being and happiness. In addition, grateful thinking—and especially expression of it to others—is associated with increased levels of energy, optimism, and empathy.
Mindfulness and gratitude apps for healthy living make sense because there is an innate spiritual quality to health and wellbeing. I like to turn to my ‘app’ for gratitude and health – it is low-tech, but as health giving as the hi-tech apps of smart phones and it has been around for centuries – the Bible. A daily‘application’ of recognizing the loving support of an infinite God, good, in my life helps me find a balance in the busyness of each day. And, this, according to many studies, provides a source of health and well-being.
Whether you choose the hi-tech digital app or the lo-tech thought-based approach, everyone from elders to teens can engage in a more effective way to take control of and better manage their health care.