Tech-ing steps towards Optimal Health

Guest Post By Dr. Steve Feyrer-Melk, Ph.D.
Dr. Steve is Director of Patient Wellness at the Optimal Heart Attack & Stroke Prevention Center, Scottsdale AZ, and Chief Science Officer of Nudge LLC.
Check out his website

iPhone and heart
                                  Health in the palm of your hand!

Technology is everywhere.  We can either embrace it, or … try to ignore it.  Nowhere is this decision more important than in the area of health-related technology.
As a savvy consumer, you are interested in improving your personal health and quality of life, and are therefore more likely to seek out technologies that may have a positive impact on you.  Unfortunately, the variety of health-related technologies is massive, making it nearly impossible to decide which is the best, most accurate, most reliable, and most secure for you on your journey of optimal health.

Each of us measures optimal health in a personal way.  Yes, general health parameters do exist that measure health status, but the way you personally perceive your health, the value you place on your personal health status is …  personal.  This is why obtaining information regarding your current health status, your ongoing lifestyle behaviors as they impact your health status, and the impact of maintaining or changing those behaviors, is extremely valuable on your journey of optimal health.

Let’s face it, if you could have optimal health would you want it? (And put aside your thoughts of not being able to achieve it.)  Would you want optimal health?  YES, we all would! So now the question is, can I utilize technology to help me on that journey?  The answer is a resounding….YES!

Phone tracking apps
                                                                             There’s an app for that!

So now what?  Do I search the Internet for health-related technologies?  Do I hit the App store and buy the most popular fitness App?  Or do I go to Best Buy, stand in front of the 100 plus different brands of activity monitors, grab anyone, download the corresponding App and hit the road?  Well, not exactly what I would advise, but you’re thinking now!

Here is what I can offer you, some real-world, practical tips that will save you time, money, sweat, tears, and a lot of “missed steps”.

Wearables line 2
                                                          A range of Activity Monitors (‘Wearables’)

Activity Monitors (Also called ‘wearables’ – see my previous post) are a great way to collect data on your behaviors.  When it comes to these monitors, not all are created equal. Unfortunately, they vary considerably in price, performance, comfort, specs, usability, etc. From my point of view, you can be confident in any Fitbit device, the Garmin Vivofit or the Jawbone Up.  I encourage you to check these out and see which one is best for you.  Ask yourself these 3 ‘Starter Monitor’ questions…

1. What is my usual mode of activity? (walking, biking etc)
2. Do I like how the device looks?
3. Is it comfortable to wear?

Don’t worry about the corresponding Smartphone App because it is the next technology that I will introduce to you that brings it all together. Before I get to the Health-Related App of all Apps, I have to give you some bad news…The average person who purchases an activity monitor will only wear it for 1 to 3 months.  “What, why the heck would I ever buy one then?  Are you crazy?”

Well, just wearing an activity monitor does provide valuable feedback that can help health-related behaviors. However, when health-related data is combined with targeted feedback from a qualified Health Coach, the results change considerably!  You see, when a Health Professional provides you with actionable feedback that is specific to you, relevant to your lifestyle, provided in a timely manner, and is communicated in a secure manner that makes you comfortable with the process, you are much more likely to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

Ok, so how much information can this activity monitor provide to my Health Coach?  The monitor will provide valuable information, but not all that is needed to maximize the process.  However, by taking just 60 seconds per day to tap in some Nutrition and Hydration/Water Intake information, you can provide the data necessary for your Health Professional to effectively help you!

The Health-Related App I am referring to is called Nudge!  This new App can be downloaded to your phone, and has been developed to give you an easy to use, and accurate way to provide valuable information to your Health Coach so he/she can guide you on your journey! It is also ‘HIPPA-secure’ which means that any information you enter into the phone is protected at the highest level of  security. NO other tracking app has this level of data protection!  Sounds great?  Well, it really is! You see, the Nudge App syncs and sorts data from market-leading health and fitness apps and technologies (including the ones I mentioned above) and provides you with a 30-day composite Lifestyle Score called the “Nudge Factor”.  This score fluctuates as your behaviors fluctuate, giving you a look at how you are doing over time…You see, Rome was not built in a day…so one day does not make a Lifestyle, good or bad!

Nudge images
                                         Some screen shots from the Nudge app

The Nudge Factor is based on passively gathered information (activity monitor data) and information entered by you that requires less than 60 seconds per day (nutrition and water intake).  What’s more, the Nudge Factor will provide you with an understandable measure of your behavior balance.  This is feedback you can wrap your brain around and can set the stage for an effective motivational environment that will help you.  The kicker to all of this is that your Health Coach has a HIPPA-secure Coaching Platform that allows for monitoring and analysis that is used to provide real-world, usable feedback for your benefit.  It is at this point that the true significance of health-related technology is experienced!

To learn more about Nudge, post a comment below or contact Dr. Steve via his Lifestyle Medicine website

Are you Nudge-able? What little thing would move you towards a more active, healthy lifestyle?

Be part of the conversation – record your thoughts or opinions on this post in the comments box below – or ask a question of your own.

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