Thursday, 14 May 2015

Proactive telehealth apps

The use of mobile devices to encourage people to become fitter and healthier is nothing new.  The more recent development is the use of apps which connect to Smartwatches. As a Smartwatch wearer, I have found that there are some apps which have limited or no use to me, but I do like the apps that sit in the background and measure my inactivity. As an Independent research Consultant I spend  considerable hours every day sat in front of computer screens. As a single dad, I am also active as kids keep you active, well so I thought. The truth of my inactivity was brought home to me when I started wearing my Smartwatch and receiving daily updates on my activity.  When I receive the activity update such as the one in the picture above, I know that I need to be more a to bring the numbers up. 

This nudge is perfect for me. It does not imply that by not doing exercise something bad will happen to me, and on days when it is impossible to exercise at all I might feel bad but, over all, I feel in control of my own health.

The key design features I love about this is that it is non judgemental, it is up to me to exercise, it is my body and my life and I can decide I want to be a couch potato if I want to.  The is no one encouraging me to do anything, but at the end of the week I can see how little or how much I have exercised.

A current failure of this app, like many of its ilk, is its inability to actually detect exercise.  For example, I could do 154 sit ups,  squats  or push ups but the app would not see that as exercise as I am stationary and it requires movement to register activity.  This is a small issue and one that can be countered by manually adding any activity that I do which is not detected.

For people with long term health conditions and people who are couch potatoes this app and smartwatch could be a cost effective method of motivating people to take up activity.  If the NHS supplemented the purchase of Smartwatches of activity bands but also obtained the results from them, this would mean that people who do not exercise could be made to pay back the supplemented part.  For those that do use the watch I can see the benefits being  very high for the NHS in the long term.

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