November 15, 2018
Clinical Contributors to this Story
Sara Scheller BSN, RN, CCRN, NBC-HWC contributes to topics such as Integrative Health and Medicine.
Can you easily be health tech savvy, no matter your age? If you are one of the estimated more than 237 million Americans with a smartphone, you already are and you may not even know it! While many tech developers are racing to create apps which are potentially habit-forming and may actually modify your brain in negative ways, there are others who are finding new, creative ways of building technology to help your health. More than likely here in the U.S., your phone operating system is an Android (now owned and developed by Google) or an iOs (owned and operated by Apple). Much of the technology today is intuitive and just by playing around for a few minutes, you may surprise yourself with what you can find. Now let’s explore how you can become health tech savvy. If you are using the iOs operating platform such as an Apple iPhone, you are already storing health data without even knowing it. All Apple iPhones with a current operating software have a Health app that looks like this:
When you click on the app, you have 4 options: Today, Health Data, Sources, and Medical ID. As a nurse, I would highly recommend you taking a few minutes to complete your medical ID (that is the option on the bottom of your screen, all the way to the right). Here you can input your name, birthdate, medical conditions, medical notes, allergies & reactions, medications, blood type, weight, height, emergency contacts and your organ donation status. This reference can be used at a visit with a healthcare provider, where you can keep your past medical history and a current, up to date medication list. This is also highly beneficial in case of an emergency as this information from your medical ID can be accessed by a first responder even if you have a passcode set on your phone. Additionally, if you enable and use the Emergency SOS function on your phone, your emergency contacts will be notified and sent to your current location. When you access the “today” function, you can see how many steps you have taken and flights you have climbed. As long as your phone is on your person, it is measuring these things and you probably do not even know! Or, if you have an apple iWatch or other wearable device that syncs with your smart phone, it is measuring these things even more accurately. Take some time to explore the “health data” function, where you can learn more about and track your activity, mindfulness, nutrition and sleep. Many health related apps you may have downloaded automatically sync to these and have additional features where you can manually enter your body measurements, health records, heart, reproductive health, results and vitals. The “sources” function aligns with our Hackensack Meridian Integrative Health & Medicine care model: The Five Pillars of Health & Well-Being. We believe these pillars — sleep, activity, purpose, nutrition and resilience — are essential components to living a life in which you can thrive.
If you are an Android user, you can download the Medical ID (free) ICE Contacts app from the app store. Here you can enter in your medical history and emergency contacts. Also, you phone is probably already tracking your steps and the flights of stairs you climb. Do you have goals to increase your level of activity? If not and you are ready to do so, you can begin to set some.
Most of us know what to do, but we aren’t actually doing it. We have access to plenty of health information but actually using it or practicing it in our lives may be overwhelming. Gaining the support of our integrative health providers, especially through health coaching, can help you find a partner in your health to make changes so you can live your best life. We use an integrative health approach that can support your whole health-body, mind and spirit.