How can your smartphone be good for your health? The field of “telemedicine” is opening itself and promoting more active involvement in a patient’s own health and healthcare. While there are apps for everything from basic first aid and CPR to IStethoscope and UCLA’s Mobile Microscope that can, according to MobileBehavior.com, turn your smartphone into a “medical Swiss army knife,” there are also important social networking opportunities for patients.
“Remote healthcare” is catching on in the age of ballooning medical costs. A study by PriceWaterhouseCoopers found that 56 percent of consumers liked the idea of getting remote care, or skipping the trip to the doctor’s office and accessing medical attention another way. Of these, 41 percent preferred care via smartphone. 94 percent of physicians use regular smartphones daily for on the job consulting, and they “make old-style assemblies of patients around specialized medical facilities less necessary,” according to William J. Mitchell in City of Bits. In addition, there are sensors available for smartphones on which send data to your smartphone to monitor heart rate, sleep cycles, calories burned, and much more.
One of the most important aspects of telemedicine is social support. This puts a patient’s health more within his realm of control, and physicians believe that it can make self-monitoring and sticking to a healthcare program much easier. Whether it is setting goals or connecting with people with similar health needs, people are finding the medical support they need through their phones instead of in the doctor’s office.
While a smartphone can’t replace a good, knowledgeable, real live doctor, it can become an invaluable tool that puts more of the responsibility and control of your health into your own hands. These apps aren’t designed to make everyone a medical expert; they are designed to give us the affordable access we need to information that can improve our health and our lives.