Cell phones are an item that many people cannot live without. They are used for many different things daily, whether in regard to personal or professional lives. One thing that is gaining in popularity in the world of cell phone usage is how they can be used for health-related aspects. Many people are starting to take advantage of the ability of cell phones to be an integral part of our health and well-being. Not only cell phones, but technology-based products in general. The world of informatics and how nurses can impact their clients lives with education and accessibility is ever-growing. This is an editorial discussing a personal experience with technology and health related applications and was previously submitted as a graduate student assignment.
Before you leave your house, you make a list in your head of everything you need to bring with you for the day. What is usually on your list? On a usual day mine would be car keys, a water bottle, my purse, and depending on the weather, a jacket. What am I forgetting? Oh yes, cell phone! I am sure this item would be on a majority of people’s list nowadays. So many of us are attached at the hips to our cell phones, so much so to the point of calling them a “lifeline.” A lifeline to the world and a lifeline to ourselves. We use them to communicate with friends and family, to keep our schedule straight, to manage finances, and for entertainment. Really, what can a cell phone not do?
One thing that many people are starting to take advantage of is the ability for cell phones to be an integral part of our health and well-being. According to Serrano et al., (2017), within the mobile health application spectrum, there are unprecedented opportunities to engage people in real-time and in the real world. For the topic of this editorial I will be referencing Apple products, like the iPhone. There are multiple applications (apps) that are free or that can be purchased to allow individuals to track their health on a convenient handheld platform. The main one that comes to mind, and that I use personally is the Apple Health application that is already on all new iPhone editions. This application allows you to keep track of doctor’s appointments, lab results, medications, vitals, mobility, food intake, and sleep patterns.
Another form of healthcare technology are wearable devices, like an Apple watch. If you have an Apple watch, you have seen the many features it can offer. These wearable devices track your steps, activity, workouts, sleep and even your heart rate. An increasingly popular subject for discussion is the heart rate monitor. The device will alert you if your heart rate falls below 40 or above 120 for an active period of ten minutes. The new editions even contain an arrhythmia detection feature that will alert you if go into an irregular rhythm, like atrial fibrillation. As always, the settings can be turned on or off and set to the level you prefer before notification happens.
Personally, I wear an Apple watch, mostly when I am at work. I do not use this piece of technology to the extent it could be used, health applications included. Currently, I have an application to link me to my primary care provider where I can make appointments, see my lab results, and even communicate with my provider through email or video. The COVID-19 pandemic has made these online resources increasingly important due to the world around us being shut down, doctor’s offices included.
With the increased move to the technological aspect of healthcare, it is important that others have access as well. This could be seen as a barrier in the older community, or those that are not as well versed with technology as say, the younger generation. According to Kaminski (2020), nurses can be key players in supporting the use of mobile devices and apps for their clients. Within a hospital setting, nurses can use this time to try to educate and answer questions from their patients on different technology features that can be used from their home setting to keep up to date with their health status and in contact with their health care providers.
The Apple technology is just one form in a world full of accessible platforms. Currently, there are 318,000 health applications available to users and 200 more released each day (Kaminski, 2020). Honestly, the amount of health-related applications that are offered to the public for free are clearly endless. It is hard to discuss all of them in one article. However, I think it is safe to say that cell phones are much more than a lifeline to friends and family. They are a lifeline to your own health as well. So, don’t forget to add these handheld devices to your daily list of remembered items before leaving home for the day!
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Kaminski, J. (2020). Share mHealth apps to promote Summer Fun Safety. Online Journal of Nursing Informatics, 24(2). https://www.himss.org/resources/share-mhealth-apps-promote-summer-fun-safety
Serrano, Coa, Yu, Wolff-Hughes, & Atienza. (2017). Characterizing user engagement with
health app data: a data mining approach. Translational Behavioral Medicine, 7(2), https://doi.org/10.1007/s13142-017-0508-y
Kelsey Plant, RN, BSN, CCRN is currently a graduate student for a Master’s (MSN) degree with a major in education. She received her Bachelor’s (BSN) degree from Baker College of Cadillac in 2018. She currently works as a patient care coordinator on a cardiac intensive care unit in a Michigan hospital. She still works as a bedside nurse as well on this unit, taking care of critical care patients at a coronary care level and is critical care certified.