A couple weeks ago Madison had her annual appointment with the allergist. We are grateful she doesn’t have any major concerns, but this routine trip is required to renew her EpiPen prescription. The appointment started with the usual documentation of vital statistics including her height, weight, blood pressure and heart rate. While the sign on the door has rules regarding cell phone use, I encouraged her to grab her iPhone 6 and record the same information as the nurse.
Her “I know, Mom” response was accompanied by the typical teenage eye roll.
Of course she knew. Not only have I told her at every doctor visit, but kids these days are pretty savvy with their devices in general. That means they are utilizing their phones in more ways than just snapping images or creating stories on social media. In this case, she is using her phone as part of her health regimen. My hope is that her awareness of her well-being goes beyond what she sees on the scale as she grows up. I was always conscious of my weight, but until I started going through fertility treatments really had no grasp of what a normal blood pressure should be. To this day, I still have to look up what the “normal” ranges are for cholesterol, triglycerides, HDL & LDLs when I receive my blood work results. As someone with over four decades on earth, I should really be more knowledgeable. My phone may be my salvation – and the training ground for my kids.
One of the most valuable but not widely utilized feature within the iPhone is the health application. Even though I’m aware of it and use it to record vitals during doctor visits as well as monthly cycles, there are so many other options within this app. The health app has four primary categories: Activity, Mindfulness, Nutrition and Sleep. Within each of those are sub-categories of tracking as well as suggestions for appropriate third party applications that would help with record keeping.
The iPhone Health app allows users to track body measurements, health records, reproductive health, lab results and vitals. In addition to the features built into the app, many third party apps are very detailed, having been created to address a specific need. As an example, a diabetic can record their glucose levels, track insulin and medication and set reminders using The Diabetes Tracker or MySugr Diabetes Logbook which syncs health data via Bluetooth. A diabetic friend of mine was telling me about a father who monitors his son’s levels remotely with a smart device that the child wears. He said as long as they both have reliable cellular service, the father can check on his son even when the child is at school! That’s a prime example of how technology is making life better for the next generation.
From food and fitness trackers such as MyFitnessPal to non-emergency medical advice with Doctor on Demand, our mobile devices are one of the greatest health tools we have at our disposal. The mobile phone isn’t going to physically get our feet moving nor prevent us from raiding the cupboard, but it is empowering us to become engaged in health and wellness. Being aware of how our cholesterol levels are altered as our weight changes is one example of using the information to make better decisions.
And that’s the first step. Controlling and monitoring your health is more than just tracking calories or counting steps. It’s much deeper and with age come more concerns. In a recent survey by U.S. Cellular, 17% of smartphone owners said they use a connected device to monitor their health, 9% track their medications and 7% monitor their blood sugar. That number will only grow as individuals like myself and my kids learn the true value of being connected.
Having a reliable connection offers more benefit that simply making phone calls, sharing on social media or checking mail. It means taking control of the most important thing in your life – yourself.
What apps do you use your phone to monitor your health?