Can the innovation of E-health technologies enable you to be in control of your health – and, thus, be healthier?
Yes, according to the Centre for Global E-Health Innovation. E-health technology is making it easier for patients to take responsibility for monitoring their health. One in four adult internet users tracks their own health data online – a growing number do it with ‘apps’ on their phones.
“Self-trackers” is the new term for these people who follow things such as weight, blood pressure, and exercise routines online, according to Carol Torgan, a health science strategist at the National Institutes for Health.
Of course, there are other applications of technology in the health setting that patients find useful – communicating with their physician for example. According to a recent study, respondents said that corresponding with their health care provider by e-mail, text or smart phone app could help them avoid a health issue. And this will only increase as more people get their hands on smart phones and tablets in the years ahead. Physicians will increasingly empower patients by offering quicker advice via texts and apps rather than patient visits.
But apps aren’t meant to replace doctors or other health care providers. Studies recommend that health apps be used to compliment what you are doing offline as even the best app can’t work magic.
As mobile and online technology is still a new and developing field in health care, many of these apps do not follow established medical guidelines. And few have been tested through the sort of clinical research that is standard for less new-fangled treatments sold by other means, a probe by the New England Center for Investigative Reporting has found. A few private groups, meanwhile, are working to assess the quality of various apps and evaluate then for safety and effectiveness.
One area where apps and websites appear to be providing value with fewer concerns is improving our mental health.
Pamela Rutledge, director of the Media Psychology Research Center says, “There’s a stigma about mental health in general, which is part of the value of these apps. How do we identify the things that really work well? The gratitude apps and the mindfulness apps are working on that side.”
Gratitude and mindfulness apps? Sure. Mindfulness and gratitude apps for healthy living make sense because there is an innate spiritual quality to health and wellbeing.
Gratitude is what gets poured into a glass to make it half full. 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 means observing your thoughts and keeping active, open, attention on the present. Many people who practice mindfulness report an increased ability to relax, a greater enthusiasm for life and improved self-esteem. Prayer, as a form of mindfulness turns the focus to the Divine; to a sense of the infinite, the sacred and the oneness of all life.
Prayer is important in a healthcare context because it is widely used and has positive results. A well-noted study by Dr. Herbert Benson, a cardiovascular medicine specialist at Harvard Medical School, documented the potential healing benefits of spiritual practices, such as prayer.
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 prayer and recognizing the loving support of an infinite God, good, in my life helps me find a balance in the busyness of each day.
Spiritual inspiration can be at your fingertips too. The YouVersion Bible app just made the top 40 list for apps. It reached 100 million users last summer competing with the likes of Instagram However, the success of either a tech app or a spiritual practice is linked by discipline. Neither works without it.
Some users of the YouVersion Bible app claim it’s like God is reaching out to them…or watching them? Of course the presence of the divine in our lives doesn’t depend on an app for validation, but if it takes one to remind you of that uplifting connection, well then, that truly is 21st century technology at its best!