Losing weight is hard. Fast food, lack of time, expensive equipment, and conflicting nutritional advice all seem to conspire to keep you from getting into the shape you want. Dietary plans and exercise regimens are hard to follow; it’s extremely difficult to pay attention to everything you eat, every stray bit of exercise you get in, and every time you slip up. Even if you get a good plan, you have difficulty knowing how well or poorly you’re following it.
Self-monitoring apps attempt to solve these problems. Get the right program, and you’ve got a dietitian, and personal trainer, and health journal all at your fingertips. While the research into these apps’ success rates is still unclear, there is no doubt that they work for many people. Here are some of the big ways in which self-monitoring apps can help you stay healthy.
Simply knowing what to do and what to avoid is a big problem for many would-be health nuts. Ask ten people their health advice and you’ll get ten answers. A good self-monitoring health app—be it nutrition, heart health, or diabetes tracking—will give you consistent advice. And consistency is a big deal; sticking to one plan ensure you won’t jump from strategy to another, following whatever is convenient at the moment. And, since the app’s on your phone, a second opinion is a just a couple Google clicks away. Apps can tell you what to eat, when to exercise, and even how much alcohol you’re safe to drink. Self-monitoring programs can fill your head with knowledge and your body with nutrition.
Self-monitoring apps can give you great advice on what to do and when. One difficulty of taking care of yourself is that there’s too much information out there. You can get overwhelmed with decisions. Many psychological researchers point to decision fatigue as a legitimate obstacle for people in every walk of life. Making constant choices about what to eat, when to run, and whether or not to take one action or another is a real pitfall of self-care. If it’s too complicated, you’ll give up. Life is complicated enough. An app that makes recommendations for you can spare you some much- needed brain power. And, since many apps are designed using expert advice, you can trust that those tips are good.
Self-monitoring apps help you keep track of what you do and when. One great aspect of this trait is that even when you slip up, you’re generating good data to use for later. You can look for, say, everything you ate last July, when you gained 20 pounds. Detailed records can provide insight into what you did, how you felt, and what you should do next time. A mysterious illness or depression may not be so hard to figure out when you back and see you spent the previous two weeks eating nothing but cupcakes. And, of course, the simple act of recording your life can provide big benefits, mental and physical.
Getting a CT scan, CAT scan, or MRI? You may have health concerns, but it is not likely you have considered the fact that these devices can be hacked, and pose a risk to the security of your personal data. Medical devices are a weak link in the cyber security of hospitals, clinics and other facilities that use these devices, as reported by Computer World.
The information gained by hijackers in hacking hospital systems can a technical “backdoor” through which other hospital data can be accessed – including all of your personal and medical information. You have provided the medical facility with your name, date of birth, social security number, and your medical history. Hijacks of medical devices are a very real threat to the security of personal information, as these system traditionally operate on older, insecure platforms.
You have every reason to be worried about your personal information becoming available to hackers if you are getting any medical tests, including X-rays, or will be undergoing surgery. The devices used in these procedures create a backdoor through which hackers have been found to gain access other hospital data that is secured by a firewall and advanced security software.
It appears that almost monthly, some new huge data breach is reported, the most recent being federal government employees, past and current, as well as large healthcare firms, Target and other large retailers, with hospitals and clinics a current target that has proven vulnerabilities.
Should you be worried? Yes. Has it already occurred? Possibly. Any person who has provided any information to a hospital, clinic, or other medical facility should be proactive and ensure that their accounts are monitored for illegal access, so it can be halted before any damage is done. Once a cyber-attack has occurred, and your personal data used to make purchases, open credit cards or access your bank accounts, it can be extremely difficult to resolve. As consumers, it is advised that all accounts are monitored by a reputable company that will alert you when suspicious activities are occurring.
As never before, our personal information is residing in many locations, including banks, credit card companies, retailers, at our place of employment, health insurance providers, and at the medical facilities where we go to attend to matters of health. Concerned about your personal data being stolen by hackers? This is just one more method by which these criminals can gain access to your personal information.
Do you peruse medical sites for information if you are experiencing symptoms? Technology has changed how people gain access to medical information. You can search your symptoms on various medical sites, or simply using the Google search bar or voice command, giving an unprecedented level of access to information about health issues that was unavailable in the past.
Earlier generations considered medical professionals to be the ultimate authorities and generally simply submitted to a prescribed treatment. Gen-Xers and millennials are far more likely to search out information about a disease or condition, including alternative treatments, and tend to be more suspicious of the medical community and have interest in being an active participant in making decisions about treatment.
Patients may be well-informed about a condition or illness and the various options for treatment even before seeing a doctor. Knowledge is power, and the data accessed from the internet can allow a patient to find the most advanced treatments available, seek out clinical trials, and discover alternative or natural treatments or cures.
How much information can be too much? Searching out diseases, illnesses and conditions can produce an overwhelming amount of data. It is also notable that medical sites such as WebMD sell advertising to big pharma, and you can “click through” to advertisements that advise you to “ask your doctor about _____,” the most productive all-time pharmaceutical marketing strategy. A patient may have already seen several online ads promoting certain medications before seeing a medical professional.
Using a “symptom checker” feature, you can search out what you are experiencing to discover what disease or condition you may have. The results can be frightening. For example, if you choose “food cravings” as a symptom, you are given the following options of possible diseases: bulimia, eating disorder, malnutrition and pica (eating disorder in which a person is compelled to consume non-food items).
Health providers are also going digital, and specialists review test results and charts on a computer and can make decisions about patient care, and prescribe treatment without ever seeing the patient in person, raising real concerns about quality of care. The jury is out, but it is hoped that the access to information will in the end, prove to be a positive.