Tech is changing the way we take care of ourselves and our families across demographics. From moms of preemies tapping into a live feed of the NICU to check up on their babies to seniors who stay independent longer with home monitoring technology, innovations in the technology space are empowering patients and bridging the communications gaps that kept them from connecting with providers.
But while attention grabbing developments like gamification in pediatrics and other specialist- or research-side tech trends are making headlines, the really interesting story is how technology can support better health day in and day out. Life-tracking has gone mainstream and most of us probably know more about our sleep and other cycles, activity levels and moods than ever before. On top of that, research portals like WebMD and services like MyHealth Online put us in the driver’s seat where physical, emotional and mental wellness is concerned.
The only problem is that the abundance of wearables, trackers, apps and gadgets can make the health and fitness technology landscape a little intimidating for late adopters. Do you really need a name-brand Fitbit or will any activity tracker do? Can games really build new brain matter?
There’s no right or wrong way to integrate tech into your healthcare regimen – what works for one person might not work for someone else. That said, here are some of the innovative ways you can use today’s technology to stay healthy and care for your family:
- KuaiWear Coaching Headphones are wireless, waterproof headphones that play more than music. They come with a full menu of built-in life tracking options plus coaching and a biometric sensor that gives real-time vocal feedback as you exercise. You can adjust your form and pace on the fly so your exercise sessions are more effective. Click here to see some other wireless headphone options.
- Mood charting apps like Optimism promote mental and emotional wellness – which is more important than ever considering that depression is on the rise. Studies show that mobile apps are an effective way to improve lifestyle behaviors, which means that periodic incidents of minor depression may be treatable with technology-driven behavioral therapies.
- S+ is a sleep monitor that links to your phone to give you personalized feedback about your sleeping habits and your sleeping environment. It doesn’t use wearables like most other systems, but rather measures movements, breathing and environmental data using ultra low power radio waves, which means you can use the S+ even if you’re a light sleeper.
- For your littlest loved ones, the Owlet baby monitor is very different from most smart baby monitors because it uses the same technology as hospitals use to wirelessly monitor a baby’s heart rate and O2 levels. A soft sock is all your baby has to wear for you to have real time information about their wellbeing during nap time and nighttime.
- The elderly population is also benefitting from health tech like senior fitness trackers. The best fitness trackers for seniors, like the Lively Wearable from GreatCall, don’t just track activity levels but also offer up daily fitness challenges for physical and mental health, social prompts and an emergency response call button that can be used in case help is needed.
- Smart scales like Withings Body and Body Cardio make losing weight a data-driven activity. With high-accuracy weight and body fat measurements, integrated nutrition tracking, heart health monitoring and coaching, it’s like having access to a personal trainer at home.
Even without a lot of gadgets, the integration of self-care and technology – as well as gamification in healthcare – is driving positive behavior like never before. Our phones can push us to exercise and eat right. Points, badges, leaderboards and level systems can make sticking with healthy habits feel like winning. And the growth of the telehealth industry means that even when getting care in person might be inconvenient or would be unsafe, you can video chat with a doctor.
If nothing else, the plethora of technologically advanced healthcare gadgets and apps on the market today are bridging gaps and busting down barriers that were preventing access to healthcare. Want to make this the year you get healthy? Now you have the tools you need.