Making Your Health App Data Work for You
As you track steps and bites using tools like FitBit, the health app data you collect could prove beneficial at your next doctor’s appointment.
Focusing on preventive care, Doctors of Osteopathic Medicine, or DOs, look beyond your symptoms to consider how environmental and lifestyle factors impact your health. DOs can partner with you to help you not only get healthy, but to set appropriate goals by taking your health history into account.
A common fitness goal, for instance, is 10,000 steps per day. However, this might not be an appropriate goal if you have a heart or lung condition.
“An arbitrary number is not for everyone. When I talk to my patients, I ask if they track health data and, if so, talk about what goals would be right for them,” says Jennifer Caudle, DO, an assistant professor at the Rowan University School of Osteopathic Medicine in Stratford, New Jersey, who uses health apps to track her own activity levels.
On those days when you consume more calories than planned, instead of punishing yourself for eating a donut, Dr. Caudle suggests seeing if your overall eating is better than it was a month ago. “Focusing on long-term improvement is more important than focusing on the calories you ate on one particular day,” she adds.
Making the Data Work for You
Once you collect some baseline data, share the information with your doctor, who can help you interpret what those numbers mean for your health.
“Many of my patients are able to upload data from their smart scales (Wi-Fi connected scales that can track weight and body fat) directly into their electronic health record. Then I can see trends develop over time,” says Jonathan Vitale, a family physician at One Medical Group in New York.
Your doctor also can help you troubleshoot the problem if you aren’t progressing toward your goal. If the tracker shows you are not sleeping enough hours, for example, your doctor can help you figure out the cause for decreased sleep, such as watching TV in the bedroom.
It’s hard to make changes when you don’t understand the scope of the problem.
“As an osteopathic family physician, I help raise awareness with my patients by helping them understand the scope of the problem,” says Dr. Caudle. “Sometimes we have to make changes outside the issue to solve the problem.”
3 Apps for Health
These are some of the health apps available on IOS and Android to help track your progress:
• If you use a weight loss program such as Weight Watchers, use the technology designed for the program.