Contrary to popular belief, doctors aren’t trained in good health: They’re trained in medicine. The responsibility for good health rests with the individual. Individuals who manage their health and wellbeing minimise doctor visits.

 

This is where technology can make an impact. Improving community self-care by supporting those who need more information and guidance in maintaining their health and wellbeing will lessen the need for medical intervention later.

Mobile platforms that provide checklists and guidelines for healthy living can assist individuals to manage their health better in their environment. A doctor’s visit, on the other hand, separates the individual from their environment and discusses symptoms, rarely investigating and discovering the cause.

For example, a child may wake coughing throughout the night and present to the emergency department on multiple occasions. The physician diagnoses croup, exacerbated by mild asthma, and prescribes Ventolin, Flixotide and an asthma action plan. Ventolin and Flixotide are powerful steroids. The physician asks no questions about irritants in the child’s environment. They tell parents their child simply has asthma.

But when the child is on holidays, there are no coughing fits. A question burns in the parents’ minds: Perhaps there are irritants in his bedroom?

Speaking to friends, the parents learn other children fare better without carpets and curtains. The parents then remove the carpets and curtains in their home and sand back the floorboards. Pulling up the carpets, they discover the underlay is mouldy. There has been a water leak in the child’s bedroom. They trace the leak to the gutters above the child’s external bedroom wall. When they fix the gutters, the incidence of night-time waking and coughing almost disappear.

Digitising health management plans

A digital health platform that combines health coaching, with essential health information, guidelines, checklists and virtual care can help individuals avoid situations such as the one above.

When a child presents with night time coughing, a health care provider can alert parents to mobile applications that support easy breathing for children at home. Digital checklists of irritants can guide parents through an audit of their home, to enable them to reduce health risks for children.

Digital health coaching can augment face-to-face care by providing the individual with:

  • Typical risks to monitor
  • Prompts for best practice healthcare
  • Reminders for follow-up appointments
  • A place to record issues and concerns, with dates, details and photographs

These practices can minimise the need for extensive medical interventions.

For example, managing a child’s nut allergy can be complicated. At different ages the child can tolerate some nuts and not others. The parents must monitor food intake in public social settings and communicate allergies to friends, teachers, parents and carers. An allergy management app can provide parents with a place to record information about which nuts to avoid.

When a child accidentally consumes nuts, parents can access a digital anaphylaxis plan for the latest best practice support. Recording details of anaphylaxis attacks in the app will also make it easier to share accurate information with doctors and hospital staff.

Innovations in health care coaching

Health care coaching recognises the vast opportunity to support better health before health deteriorates and requires medical help, by promoting healthy daily living. The latest technological advances can identify health risks, communicate best practice and support our vulnerable when they need it most. The aim is to avoid the onset of serious disease. Some examples include:

  • Personalised digital interventions:
    Making health coaching available to individuals within the community and within their own environment is key to disease prevention. Participants’ digital data can provide care teams with insights for personalised care plans.
  • Wearables and self-tracking:
    Wearable devices and software now allow individuals to continuously monitor physical activity, food intake, weight loss to help them better understand good health and reach their goals. Digital platforms can share real-time, objective health data with care teams for a comprehensive picture of an individual’s health in their own environment.
  • Health coaching and virtual care:
    Mobile applications can provide guided support anywhere and anytime. Support can be video recordings, virtual coaching or phone calls from health support staff.
  • Social support tools:
    Individuals can access social support through connected devices. Private social groups within a social feed can provide moral support and encouragement. Customising social support and digital tools can support healthy behaviour and information sharing.
  • Coaches can build strong connections with individuals via in-app communications, phone, and in-person meetings to support goals such as:
  • Weight loss and management
  • Smoking cessation
  • Management of chronic conditions like diabetes, hypertension or depression
  • Complex conditions like chronic pulmonary obstructive disease or congestive heart failure
  • Asthma management
  • Allergy management, such as anaphylaxis
  • Mental health care

How technology is shaping the health industry

There are already a number of easily accessible health care apps available to the general public:

  • Apple Health
    Apple have developed Apple Health to make it easy to learn about your health and start reaching your goals. It consolidates health data from iPhone, Apple Watch and third‑party apps already in use, so individuals can view all their progress in one convenient location. It also recommends other helpful apps to round out the collection — making it simpler than ever to improve health.
  • Apple Bedtime app
    Apple iPhone’s iOS12 has introduced Bedtime. It provides deeper sleep monitoring, monitoring ‘time on device’ and time spent on the phone.
  • Apple Medical ID app
    There is also a Medical ID feature on iPhones that can provide essential information to caregivers and medical staff during emergencies.
  • Google Fit
    Google has launched Google Fit, an open platform that lets users control their fitness data, developers build smarter apps and manufacturers focus on creating amazing devices.
  • Apple Health Records
    With iOS 11.3 and the Health app, a new beta feature lets you see all your health records — such as medications, immunisations, lab results, and more — in one place.

Supporting individuals to practice good health habits within their own environment using the latest advances in technology can reduce disease. Presenting at the doctor’s office should be seen as a last step in healthcare. Before this, there is a vast opportunity to guide, educate and support the individual. Digital support tools can optimise self-care practices for individuals, reducing the need for medical intervention. Mobile applications can embed best practice activities in the daily lives of individuals.

Reducing the burden on the health sector by shifting the health care paradigm from medical intervention to health care coaching is now possible with the latest advances in digital technology.

Mobiddiction has created two health care coaching apps:

  • SP Health
  • Balance for FatBlaster

To learn more about how digital platforms can coach good health, contact us for a complimentary consultation. Email contactus@mobiddiction.com.au or call 02 9262 1363.

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