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Looking to improve health? Start by measuring!

Updated: Jul 12, 2021

Self-monitoring is transforming health. The self-tracking revolution has scaled massively over recent years, due mainly to organisations who wish to increase the volume of data available to innovators, to help them devise and create products and services which improve health and healthcare.

Today we will look at the development of self-monitoring health and the benefits it brings . . .

workout equipment stacked in a pile on the floor
Workout equipment stacked in a pile on the floor

What is self-monitoring?

Self-monitoring, also known as self-tracking, is where an individual uses intelligent tools such as wearable sensors and mobile apps to collect, process and display personal data to help users monitor, manage and share all aspects of their personal health. It was estimated that in 2019, around 34% of adults used mobile health apps to track their health globally, showing just how seriously self-monitoring is being taken. Health tracking technology has advanced in the consumer market to the point of being small and affordable for everybody to access. Apps and devices have the ability to provide us with biomarkers and body health metrics that previously were only discovered through visiting your doctor and invasive testing.

Purple waves forming a line graph
Purple waves forming a line graph

Why does self-monitoring work?

There is a saying in management if you want to improve something, start by measuring it, or you won’t see how to make a difference. This could not be more relevant when tracking health. The main appeal of self-tracking tools is that results are returned to the user instantly, and instant feedback is a great motivator.

For example, when starting a weight-loss journey it can be hard to stay motivated. Weight is not lost overnight, so instant gratification, such as a pedometer or activity tracker can offer encouragement to help keep users engaged and motivated until results start to show.

The value of self-tracking tools is not only the ability to raise awareness for health improvement but also in highlighting the types of changes needed to make a significant difference to an individual’s health.

BVI results been shown on different phone screens
BVI results been shown on different phone screens

Let’s talk about the benefits…

There is no denying that self-tracking devices are bringing us to a turning point in medicine. Let’s discuss the top 4 benefits that self-monitoring can bring to patient care…

  1. Up to date Patient Information By tracking and monitoring health, patients are able to provide their healthcare professionals with a continuum of objective data. Tracking can also enable healthcare professionals to make better-informed decisions on their patients’ health, especially if the patient data is able to flow into the patient record seamlessly. This enables areas of concern to be identified early, meaning the appropriate alterations can be made to the patient’s care plan and the correct clinical pathway can be chosen.

  2. Improved Outcomes When using self-tracking devices or apps patients are able to become more engaged and also knowledgeable about their conditions. Patients can often identify the cause and effect of their condition and make beneficial changes to lifestyle accordingly. Studies consistently show that self-testing improves a patient’s experience, and recent NHS directives suggest that not only does self-management reduce strains on health service resources, it also improves patient outcomes.

  3. Reduce Unnecessary Appointments The ability to self-monitor health can lead to a reduction in the number of routine appointments required by a patient. This can allow the same resources to be released to reach more patients. In addition, a number of invasive tests in current clinical pathways could be replaced through self-monitoring and assessment.

  4. Lifestyle Self-monitoring means patients can manage their condition from the convenience of their own homes. By utilising digital solutions patients can self-test at a time and a place that suits them. With a wide range of options, services can be used by the majority of the general public, regardless of technical ability or internet access.

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