How Smartphones Support Health
Many smartphones have features and apps that make them great resources for wellness – and they can benefit your medical needs as much as your well-being. Here are eight phone uses worth remembering when thinking about your health.
1. Your Phone as a Medical ID
Smartphones can often double as mobile medical alert bracelets. For example, some smartphones allow you to set up a mobile medical ID that contains your personal information, such as medical conditions, allergies, emergency contacts and blood type. In case of an emergency, physicians and emergency personnel can access your information through your phone’s emergency button, even if it’s locked.
2. Your Phone as a Fitness Tracker
Wearable technology is one of the most popular ways to track health – and it’s easy to get the most out of your wristband and its corresponding app, but what you may not know is that, depending on your goals, you may not even need the wearable at all. Most smartphones are equipped with motion sensors that measure steps, distance traveled and even stairs climbed. It shows your daily, weekly, monthly and yearly totals and no setup is required.
3. Your Phone as a Heart Rate Monitor
You may think the wearable tracker has the upper hand with heart rate monitoring, but that’s not always the case. Smartphones can also have built-in heart rate monitors, and some smartphones let you measure and track your own health trends. Take this all with a grain of salt, though. Both wearable and smartphone heart rate tracking should be taken as an estimate and technology shouldn’t replace a regular visit with your physician.
4. Your Phone as a 911 Caller
Some smart phones use voice activation, so you can literally yell at your phone for help. Other phones have a built-in SOS. On certain phones, rapidly pressing the power key three times records a photo, audio clip and sends a Google Maps link of your location to any contact you’ve instructed it to.
5. Your Phone as a Meal Planner
Smartphones allow you to download apps and log food and exercise information directly into your phone. Many healthy eating apps let you use your smartphone’s camera to scan a product’s barcode to add to a food journal. These nutritional tools are not only helpful, but educational as well, enabling you to make healthy choices even when you’re not using your phone.
6. Your Phone as a Sleep Guide
If you suffer from sleep apnea, which is marked by pauses in breathing or shallow infrequent breathing during sleep, you understand how scary this medical condition can be. Certain apps can offer relief by “training” you to move from your back to your side while sleeping, reducing these poor breathing episodes.
Other sleep apps offer motion tracking, sound recording and a smart alarm. With your phone plugged in, the apps can detect and record your sleep-talking, snoring and other sleep disturbances so you can better understand in the morning why you may be having sleep issues.
7. Your Phone as a Medication Reminder
A number of apps can help you (and your family members) manage medications with reminders, including refills. You should discuss the best app for your health needs with your physician.
8. Your Phone as a Family Health Tracker
Your smartphone’s organizational capabilities can make it a huge help when it comes to managing not only your own health, but also that of your family. The calendar can help you manage everyone’s appointments, but apps from your insurance provider, pharmacy or an independent medication tracker can also help you keep your family’s health on track.
Finding the Right Health App for You
Your smartphone is only as smart as you want it to be. Hundreds of apps and tools are available to aid in your health and wellness, some fun and free and others available to purchase. When considering apps for your phone, you’ll naturally filter by your type of phone and whether you want to pay for the app or not. You may also want to ask your physician for recommendations or discuss which you use before relying too heavily on them for health.