Should Doctors Dread FitBits?

Health and Fitness Apps

wearable-medical-device.jpgMobile apps for health and fitness tracking are becoming increasingly popular, helping millions of individuals stay engaged with their personal wellness and lifestyle choices. By coordinating with wearable biometric devices, like FitBit and the Apple Watch, health apps enable users to measure and calculate biometric data such as heart rate, blood oxygenation, and calories burned. One couple even discovered their pregnancy via FitBit data.

While mobile health apps are helping many users personalize their workouts and stay on track with healthy lifestyles, it’s not always clear how health app data will be useful for healthcare providers. Already, some physicians find themselves overwhelmed by patients bringing fitness tracker data to check-ups: “They come in with these very large Excel spreadsheets, with all this information—I have no idea what to do with that,” says oncologist Andrew Trister.

And yet, the affordable, user-friendly technology that underpins mobile health apps is also poised to have serious clinical implications, particularly for the management of chronic conditions like diabetes and congestive heart failure.

Mobile Health Apps for the Modern Clinic

When patients expect doctors to sort through masses of fitness tracker data, the biometrics are excessive rather than effective. But when physicians are seeking to confirm diagnoses or assess lifestyle changes, personal health apps equip patients to monitor the effects of their physicians’ advice. This process is substantially strengthened by mobile health apps that are able to interoperate with electronic health records, enabling care teams to remotely monitor empirical data on patient progress.

mhealth app congestive heart failure managementRemote patient monitoring is the use of biometric devices to strengthen communication between patients and physicians, with some biomonitoring software even equipping care teams to add remotely collected biometric reports into patient records. Remote biomonitoring is a cost-effective method to confirm diagnoses, assess the efficacy of prescriptions, and intervene before patients’ conditions requires hospitalization. Research consistently finds outpatient clinics that use mobile health technology are associated with improved patient outcomes.

The mobile monitoring process keeps patients informed in their choices and engaged in their care. And many patients find themselves more likely to follow their physician’s advice when they know their adherence is being monitored—a phenomenon known as the Hawthorne effect.

Congestive Heart Failure Management App

For patients managing congestive heart failure, prescription drugs can be an expensive approach with the potential for serious side affects. Accordingly, many physicians will first recommend lifestyle changes such as quitting smoking, reducing sodium intake, and increasing certain forms of physical activity. With the use of interoperable mobile health apps, patients and their physicians are able to monitor the effects of these regimes.

The best mobile EMRs further streamline chronic condition management by enabling physicians to configure alerts for troubling biometric trends, such as rapid weight gain. This is a key way in which remote patient monitoring reduces hospital readmissions for congestive heart failure patients.

The following video provides a brief overview of how the Synoptec™ Remote app can help patients and their care teams better communicate to manage congestive heart failure:

 

To connect your practice to clinical pilots with the Synoptec™ Remote congestive heart failure management app, contact Softworks Group CEO Tim Edlund.