Earlier this year, I received a Fitbit device from my partner – a confirmation of my digital diva disposition and perhaps a subtle message that I needed to set a higher “step-goal” for myself. Accepting the fitness challenge, I began to keep track of my daily steps and found unexpected satisfaction whenever I met my daily goal. Within a week of downloading and using the Fitbit mobile app, my initial indifference turned into a quiet obsession with my health data; I began to track my steps, set new fitness goals, and input meals.
Sites like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram allow people to create and share content and participate in social networking. In the context of health, these linkages have the potential to create support systems that encourage a healthier lifestyle. With the rise in mobile health devices like wearables, apps and social media, so has the ability for individuals to engage in their health and care.
The FitBit mobile app offers a platform for users to engage in their health alongside a supportive social network. This app lets you connect and share your workout profile and accomplishments with friends, family, and followers via social media, email or text. As a mildly self-conscious person, I was hesitant to share my workout profile and stats. However, being able to control what information I can share and with whom, improved my reluctance.
If wearables allow us to engage with our friends and family about our health data, how can we extend the conversation to include our providers in sharing and learning from this data? The ease with which consumers can access, manage and share their fitness data through a wearable device should be replicated within the health care system. It should be just as easy to set and track cholesterol goals with my provider as it is to set daily step goals on my Fitbit and share progress with my social network. This ability would also supplement the data providers already have to help us both make more informed decisions.
The free flow and accessibility of health data are key to engaging and empowering consumers. Incorporating wearable capabilities – like sending or sharing health information with a clinical setting – can create a new kind of conversation between you, your provider, and your care team about broader aspects of your health.
With the new year right around the corner, consider: How can you share and use health data to achieve your goals in 2017?