Are smartphones the medical industry’s new multi-purpose tool?

Are smartphones the medical industry’s new multi-purpose tool?

Trends in health information technology are constantly evolving, with new gadgets and programs being released every day. The industry’s newest go-to tool could be sitting in your pocket, however. As the popularity of health-related mobile apps picks up, smartphones could soon be considered indispensable medical instruments.

Mobile apps can help people stay aware of their well-being 
HealthDay News reported that 20 percent of Americans currently have apps installed on their phones that they use to monitor their health. These programs range from exercise trackers, pedometers and digital diet journals to heart rate monitors and coronary disease risk assessors. There are also apps that can help diabetics monitor their blood sugar, assist smokers in the quitting process and offer help to people trying to manage their cholesterol and blood pressure levels.

A recent study from the American Heart Association investigated the effectiveness of these apps to see if they’re making positive differences in the lifestyles of their users. Live Science reported that the AHA looked at 69 studies published throughout the last decade on what six habits influence heart health in adults. Overall, researchers determined that the top three most prominent actions that improved subjects’ well-being were losing weight, quitting smoking and exercising – three behaviors that people can support through the use of mobile apps.

Technology increases self-awareness 
Live Science explained that research into the effectiveness of mobile apps is still up-and-coming, as they are a relatively new phenomenon and are continuing to evolve in their own right. The AHA study did note, however, that mobile apps are able to create a heightened sense of self-awareness, which can encourage users to stay motivated and achieve their health goals.

For example, smokers who subscribe to apps that message them throughout the day targeting hours they would normally reach for cigarettes are more likely to have short-term quitting success. People who document their daily food intake are more likely to make healthy choices, as they’re forced to recognize their fat and sugar consumption. So while the AHA didn’t come to an in-depth conclusion about the benefit of mobile apps, they determined that they can play a crucial role in raising people’s awareness about their own health.

HealthDay News reported that AHA researchers believe people using mobile technology to improve their lifestyles should continue doing so, especially if they’ve had success through these programs. People who don’t know what apps to download should ask their doctors for advice.