Improving Health Behaviors with Mobile Tools
How Do Mobile Tools Improve Health Behaviors?
The American Heart Association program Life’s Simple 7 is a list of seven simple ways to improve your heart health:
being more active, eating better, managing your weight, reducing blood sugar, avoiding tobacco smoke, and controlling both cholesterol and blood pressure.
This list has become more manageable for those of us with fast-paced lives. When we use mobile applications, wearable sensors, and SMS alerts, we create awareness of our habits (both good and bad) and can make healthier choices.
Here’s how we’re using Mobile Tools to support healthy behaviors:
According to a statement recently released by the American Heart Association, “people who include mobile technology in a comprehensive lifestyle program for weight loss were more successful in short-term weight loss compared to those who tried to lose weight on their own, but there isn’t any published data on whether the participants maintained their weight loss beyond 12 months.”
A good mHealth weight loss program offers similar elements to that of a person-to-person individualized program. The mobile tools and programs that focus on a calorie-controlled diet with food intake tracking and customized feedback based upon your entires. More organizations are including SMS to send reminders and deliver healthcare literacy. This can be triggered by the entries made into a mobile app such as “Remember to eat 2-3 cups of vegetables today. Dinner Recipe Idea…”
Tracking Physical Activity
Mobile programs boost physical activity, however there is little research to show whether wearable technology actually helps you be physically active. Using a tool such as MapMyFitness or another physical activity tracking tool is most helpful when the user gets customized feedback and support from social circles – many mobile tools are integrated into social networks or have their own.
The mobile apps using SMS to push out messages for smoking intervention can almost double the chances of quitting. However, about 90 percent of people using mobile apps fail to quit smoking after six months. The best approach for many, is using mobile health apps in combination with a traditional quit-smoking programs.
For healthcare professionals, mobile tools may actually boost screening for smoking. Many clinicians do not necessary ask about smoking during a patient exam. “Using mobile phones loaded with tobacco screening guidelines prompted nurses to ask patients about their smoking habits in 84 percent of clinic visits and to offer cessation counseling to 99 percent of smokers who expressed a willingness to kick the habit, according to a study from Columbia University School of Nursing published in Oncology Nursing Forum.” (source: MedicalXPress)
To learn more about changing behaviors using technology and mobile tools, check out Behavioral Healthcare and Technology: Using Science-Based Innovations to Transform Practice. Here’s a great recap of the book for reference on Piper Report.