Mesothelioma patient care soon could be enhanced by the use of fitness trackers and health apps on phones to monitor patients between visits, according to new media reports. The Mayo Clinic and the University of California San Francisco are among the medical institutions piloting the use of this new technology for patients with chronic health issues and those recovering from surgery.
The fitness trackers and phone apps intended purpose is to help people manage their exercise and other health habits. The fitness trackers are wireless-enabled wearable devices like the Fitbit Tracker, that measure data such as the number of steps walked, quality of sleep and other personal metrics. Some can serve as heart-rate monitors and measure weight and Body Mass Index (BMI). Downloadable apps on smart phones can provide similar functions.
Users of these devices and apps can log in their food, activities, water intake and weight; all parameters of concern for physicians monitoring patients with mesothelioma and other types of cancer.
How The New Technology Can Help Mesothelioma Patient Care
Why should mesothelioma patients give their doctors permission to incorporate data from fitness trackers and health apps into their electronic patient records? The ongoing cumulative data collection in one location can give physicians and their staff a more complete personal health report than could be obtained from just a phone call. This could be a great help to mesothelioma patients who do not feel well enough for frequent trips to health care offices for monitoring and would prefer to avoid potential exposure to germs in waiting rooms of medical centers.
Instead of mesothelioma patients being limited to a 15-minute visit in the office, the new technological options globalizes their physicians’ view of their health status on a much more daily if not hour-to-hour basis.
The tracking devices might spot signs of a problem that undetected could land a patient in the emergency room. They also might be able to monitor how a mesothelioma patient is healing from surgery or whether they are following a prescribed treatment regimen.
Monitoring the Data to Optimize Mesothelioma Patient Care
If medical practitioners decide to expand use of health trackers and apps to more patients, staff at doctors’ offices and hospitals will need to ensure that teams are in place to review the wealth of data that potentially could come in, the report points out. Consumer privacy and security issues also need to be addressed. Medical research also needs to confirm that these trackers and apps really improve patient care. The University of California, San Francisco reportedly is studying which of these gadgets are the most reliable.
Doctors See Potential For Tracking Technology
Beyond sleep and exercise data coming from fitness trackers, doctors see the potential that these devices may someday soon be able to measure glucose, blood pressure, respiratory rates and blood-oxygen levels. There’s also the idea that just knowing that their doctor will be able to review their data will have a positive effect on mesothelioma patients’ compliance with taking medications and with the doctor’s diet and activity recommendations.
Although apps and trackers could ultimately reduce patient visits and can serve as aids or tools to help doctors deliver better care, “It is just a tool,” Dr. Robert Wergin, president of the American Academy of Family Physicians, is quoted as saying. “This shouldn’t substitute for a face-to-face visit.”