Healthcare Technology Featured Article

May 13, 2013

Five Ways to Use Your Mobile Device to Stay Healthy This Summer

Recently, there has been much hype about the integration between mobile technology and healthcare. We are free to speculate all we want on what the future might hold, and the questions are endless.  Will mobile technology eventually replace the need for doctors? Can computers really gauge a more accurate reading of our health than a human? With so many questions, it is necessary to step back and take a good look at where our technology currently stands in this field.

While the day might come where smartphones actually replace doctors’ aides, physicians today are primarily using mobile devices for administrative purposes to more efficiently serve patients. Your mobile device, however, is already equipped with enough technology to keep tabs on a large number of bodily functions. Apps are available to help you maintain a proper diet, ensure you are getting enough exercise and avoid allergens before you encounter them. Now, it is even possible to test your hearing using your phone.

Here are some ways that you can use your mobile device to keep your health in check this summer so that you can stay out on the beach and out of the doctor’s office as the weather heats up. 

1. Watch your sun intake.

According to U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), heat stroke causes at least 300 deaths per year. This summer, everyone can help lower this statistic by installing the OSHA Heat Safety Tool App (iPhone, Blackberry, Android), presented by the U.S. Department of Labor.

This app determines your work location and informs you of appropriate measures that you need to take to protect yourself based on the weather conditions in your area. Featured functions include break/ hydration reminders, emergency procedures and advice for dealing with extreme heat. This is especially helpful for workers, but also useful for any recreational activity you might take part in.

2. Protect your skin.

While skin cancer detection apps have come under heat recently due to false detections, if you are suspicious and would like some advice before consulting a doctor then you should check out the MySkin app. This can help you register your skin type to know what kinds of care you need while detecting for suspicious moles. There is also Mole Detect Pro, which can detect possible cancer symptoms based on algorithms taken from pictures of your skin.

Skin of Mine is worth mentioning as well due to its bug bite detection system useful for combating mosquitoes and spider bites. This app, available for iPhone, can also refer you to a local dermatologist if needed.

3. Stay hydrated.

It goes without saying that if you are thirsty, you are already dehydrated. Unfortunately, drinking enough water is too often something that we forget to do—and dehydration can cause hospitalization if it is severe enough. In fact, 75 percent of Americans suffer from dehydration. So, what you need is an app that regularly reminds you to drink water. Why not check out iHydrate, which offers scheduled reminders as well as risks associated with local weather conditions and the amount of fluids you need to replace after exercise.

Other recommended apps include Absorb Water for iPhone and Drinking Water for Android.

4. Keep a close watch on your heart rate.

This is especially crucial for our elderly and overweight individuals, but something that everyone should pay attention to. The Instant Heart Rate app, available for both Apple and Android devices, gives you an accurate reading of your heart rate by touching your finger to the camera of your device. Instant Heart Rate works by measuring the oxygen rate in your blood.

For those who would prefer a more comprehensive reading, check out the Beets Blu device, which straps to your chest and transmits your heart rate directly to your device. Beets Blu is also compatible with both Apple and Android.

5. Know the quality of the air you are breathing.

Whether or not you suffer from a pulmonary condition, air quality knowledge is crucial—and the State of the Air app from the American Lung Association will give you all of the information you need to stay informed on air quality, wherever you are. An easy to read interface provides you with daily and weekly air quality forecasts, so you can see the amount of ozone and particulate pollution around you. And in addition to receiving air quality alerts, you will be able to read what others have to say while being able to voice your thoughts on the conditions around you.

It is important to remember that health-related mobile technology is meant to enhance your healthcare, not to replace your doctor. Websites like WebMD, for instance, can offer insight to potential health problems but can more likely than not burden you with false diagnoses. Use these mobile apps to stay informed and make healthy daily decisions while you are on-the go. Then, make sure to schedule an appointment with your local physician.

Edited by Carrie Schmelkin
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