Wearable Health Trackers – an IM Doctor’s New Best Friend

How many of your patients use wearable fitness/health trackers?

According to the research firm, eMarketer, approximately 39.5 million U.S. adults used wearable fitness trackers in 2015, a 57.7% lift over 2014. The same firm predicted that at least two in five Internet users would don wearable trackers by 2019. Impressive!


Why the wearables craze? People are becoming more motivated to take their health into their own hands!

Ultimately, the growing popularity of wearables means further validation for personalized medicine and Integrative methods, and that’s something to celebrate. According to a recent survey that we conducted here at Power2Practice, 70% of Integrative doctors already recommend activity trackers to patients as part of their treatment plan.

Dr. Paul Savage, the founder of Power2Practice, said that physician requests were behind the recent move toward Fitbit integration. “We listen to the feedback from our doctors and understand that this [integration] is an integral part of the way we practice medicine. Wearables have become a powerful, yet relatively easy way to engage patients between visits. We at Power2Practice want to continue developing an EMR that is focused on accelerating Integrative care, which means constantly evolving our software to meet the needs of our physicians and the patients they serve.”

Now that Power2Practice automatically uploads Fitbit data to the patient portals, engaged patients can watch activity and sleep trends alongside other important health numbers, such as lab data, while accessing educational resources about their health conditions or supplements prescribed.

Additional feedback from the Integrative care community has suggested that cash-pay and concierge patients are typically more motivated to make drastic lifestyle changes on the road to better health—and are more tech-savvy too.

However, wearable tracking devices aren’t just for the “wealthy and well.” They are becoming a critical component in managing the health of higher-risk patients, such as those who are on the verge of developing metabolic syndrome. By embracing wearables, physicians are better equipped to stay in touch with patients and monitor their data through the patient portal of a HIPAA-secure EMR, instead of limiting the patient/provider relationship to office visits only.


Wearables are reinventing the way that humans understand their bodies!

From tracking physical activity and sleep patterns to the future of tracking biometrics data such as heart rate and respiration, wearable devices have the ability to aid medical condition management—beyond just weight loss—and drastically improve patient engagement for better outcomes across all measures.


6 Reasons Why Wearable Health Trackers are Ideal for IM Patients

Increased Awareness

From steps and sleep to calories and cholesterol, it’s nearly impossible for patients to know where they’re at until they see the data in a big picture format. Alongside lab tests, wearable trackers and food journal apps can help patients stay on top of their important numbers and make better choices, moment-to-moment and day-to-day.

According to a recent survey conducted by Fitbit, 91% of users report that the devices assist with awareness of activity levels, resulting in better ability to reach their health and fitness goals. As we know, the road to health is built incrementally and little changes can add up to significant health improvements over time—but awareness is key.


Identifying Trends

Just as important as knowing important numbers is to understand trends in that data over time. The road to better health and fitness is not a straight line, but filled peaks and valleys.

Looking at long-term trends can help identify certain times of the week or month where triggers arise. These stressors may lead to poor decision-making about what to eat of how much activity to engage in. Conversely, trend data also opens the door to celebrating long-term improvements as well!

Physicians using an EMR that integrates with wearable devices, such as Power2Practice, can send a nudge when activity looks low or a digital “high five” when trends are positive, further strengthening the physician/patient relationship.


Boosting Motivation

For those seeking motivation, wearable fitness trackers may fit the bill! Health changes are hard to make when going it alone, and wearable health trackers can help provide the boost the patients need to get started.

90% of Fitbit users believe that the device motivates them to walk more, and 85% of users claim to take more steps now than before they started using their Fitbit tracker. In fact, a “reminder to move” feature was the most desired addition that customers asked for in polls, so the company added it to their most recently-launched device (the Alta).


Establishing Accountability

Wearable devices are quickly becoming a motivator, statistician and physician-connectivity tool all wrapped into one. Instead of trying to count steps taken or minutes worked out, the device does all the work for patients. All that your patients need to do is open an app and refresh.


Accelerating Weight Loss

Weight loss is different for everyone and no one diet or meal plan fits all. Studies consistently show that keeping a food journal can double a patient’s weight loss. And patients who track diet using an app, such as the one offered by Fitbit, can boost weight loss by an additional 15 pounds!


“Hacking” the Body with Data

Active patients who are looking to take their health to the next level often covet the feedback that wearable trackers provide, which may otherwise be hard to find. These patients can really dig in and “hack their bodies” with the data trends gleaned, making it easier to know when a goal has been tackled.


The Future of Wearables in Healthcare

Corporate wellness: The U.S. is currently leading the way in wearables use, and many workplaces are instituting health and wellness programs that incentivize employees to get more active and track food choices. When it comes to business operations, health means wealth!

Insurance: We can also expect to see more insurance companies offering reduced premiums to people who can demonstrate positive health metrics, such as consistent number of steps taken per day or week. As medical professionals in the Integrative specialty, we already know just how far these accountability tools may go in accelerating health status over the long haul.

Research: In 2013, Mayo Clinic gave Fitbit trackers to 150 heart surgery patients to see if certain levels of activity would predict recovery times. As expected, the most active patients were released earlier than the group of less active patients!

Big tech: Some of the larger tech firms, such as Google, Apple and Samsung, are purportedly developing biometric tracking tools specifically for medical use, along with cloud-based, HIPAA-secure repositories for the data collected.

Clearly, wearable health and fitness tracking devices are here to stay! Whether patients use low cost pedometers, bracelet trackers, smart watches or body sensors, the tools have clearly cemented their utility in the healthcare setting and will continue to help patients make better choices about activity, sleep and what to eat, every day.


P2P Now Integrates with Fitbit

Now that Fitbit integrates with Power2Practice, your patients can take even more ownership of their healthcare and watch their progress over time using the advanced patient portal.

Between automatic Fitbit data uploads and the education resources available through the patient portal, you can partner with your patients like never before!

Click here to learn more and watch a video that shows what a patient’s Fitbit data looks like within the P2P dashboard.