Technology often gets a bad reputation – it’s blamed for making us lazy, making our lives more sedentary, even making us less engaged with our friends and family because we focus on our phones instead. But are we judging technology too harshly? When at its best, technology has the potential to make us healthier – and when we collaborate with our doctors, tools like electronic medical records (EMRs), wearable fitness trackers, and phone apps can improve our medical care and help us lead healthier lives.
A Unified Record
Although as individuals we interact with EMRs infrequently, the requirement under the ACA that doctors transition to digital record systems is important because it makes it easier for us to transport our complete medical information between doctors. That means specialists have access to our history, what our primary care physicians have done, and can more easily make a diagnosis. EMRs also reduce the chance of errors from messy handwriting or inconsistent notes.
There are a variety of different EMR systems on the market, including industry leaders like NextGen Ambulatory EHR and Practice Fusion EHR, as well as less popular options like AdvancedEHR. Trust that your doctor has tools to help select the best choice for their practice and that they’ll employee these tools to your benefit.
Why Wearable Work
Everywhere you go today, you see people wearing Fitbits and other activity trackers, but have these devices shown tangible benefits? It may be early to say, as there are few extended studies to draw on, but 40% of doctors say they’ve recommended use of wearables to patients – although only 4% of patients have followed up on that recommendation.
Still, many people find that they have more success starting a daily exercise routine, one of the most important things you can do for your health, when they have the feedback, encouragement, and even competition of a wearable. If these devices get us up from our desks even a few times a day, that’s still a significant difference.
Mobile Meal Planning
Finally, smartphones are making it easier than ever to stick to a diet plan because you can use an app to monitor what you eat, while still maintaining a flexible lifestyle. In the past, you needed to plan and measure meals at home in order to effectively count calories, but now using apps or an internet browser, you can quickly look up foods while eating out and make smarter menu choices. Pair calorie counting with a wearable that calculates calories burned and you’ve got the perfect diet model – calories in versus calories out.
The more readily and consistently we implement many of the same tools that have been credited with making us lazier, the better our future health outcomes promise to be. So say goodbye to clunky notepads full of nutrition facts and medical records scattered across a dozen offices – now you can hold your health in the palm of your hand.