Beyond Fitbit, There Is More To Health Management

Health management found an altogether new meaning in 2007 when Fitbit Inc set its foundation in San Francisco. A decade down the line, the world has caught up with the ‘healthy living’ trend and how! What started more as a fad has now become an integral part of people’s lives. There are people who just cannot function without their Fitbit tugging at their wrists! No, we are not exaggerating.

Fitbit came in as a revolutionary product that helped people keep track of their physical activity. It gave birth to a horde of other fitness trackers that let you track your physical/health activities ranging from calorie intake, calories burnt, steps walked, kilometres ran, water intake, sleep et al. You name it and you have a tracker for it today – be it in the form of a wearable gadget or a mobile phone application. These are all great ways to ensure that you are leading a healthy life but have you ever wondered that this is not all that health management is about?

Health management is an umbrella term and tracking physical activities and sleep is just two of the many other aspects that one needs to cater to for a having a healthy mind and body. The fad of fitness trackers and app has made people overlook the bigger picture. Managing health is not only about tracking your steps, calories, or food but also about monitoring your health at regular intervals. Monitoring health is what these apps and trackers don’t provide for. A holistic approach to health management will be tracking as well as monitoring other aspects. Let’s take a look –

Managing Personal Health Record (PHR) History:

Personal Health Record (PHR) is a tool that helps an individual to keep a track of their past and current health and medical history. Unlike the fitness apps and trackers where you live by the day, the PHR is a consolidated data about your entire health history. It helps doctors in tracking your past health record thereby felicitating better and accurate medical care. It keeps track of your diagnosis and treatments which, in turn, helps the doctors in precise analysis and treatment. There are several mobile apps available today which can help you keep track of your personal health record right from the mobile.

Healthcare Advice

Have a stomach ache? Google the symptoms and voila you have stomach cancer! Hasn’t this happened with most of us? Today, Googling about a disease has created more anxiety than the disease itself. With so much of information at our disposal, it becomes difficult to measure the accuracy of it. Reading a couple of articles on the internet cannot provide you with the healthcare advice you need. You need qualified professionals to guide you through. You need access to quality health advice from expert professionals – delivered right on your mobile phone.

Keeping in Touch with Doctors

How many times have you texted your doctor regarding some ailment or post-op follow-up? Innumerable, isn’t it? Ever wondered about how unsystematic you are being regarding such vital information? It becomes difficult not only for you but also for the doctor to keep track of your medical history. You should be able to communicate with the doctor while making your medical information available systematically. You don’t need to visit the doctor nor do you need to worry about losing track of your vital medical information. Everything should be placed systematically under your health profile.

Locating Doctors, Labs & Other Medical Facilities

Just like apps wherein you review restaurants, how about an app where you can review doctors, labs, X-ray and MRI centres etc? We seek reviews from acquaintances and friends before finalizing a doctor or accessing any other medical facility. But, what if you are stuck in a new city with no reliable acquaintance? In such situations, it helps to have an app more like an online directory that recommends and reviews doctors, hospitals, labs and other medical centres.

Good Diet & Exercise

Completing 10k steps every day on your fitness tracker doesn’t mean that you have met your exercise quota nor does consuming food with limited calorie ensures you are having a good and healthy diet. Exercise and a good diet are well beyond that. One needs to exercise for at least 30 minutes at a stretch. Walking 10k steps over the entire day doesn’t count for exercise. A good diet is imperative in maintaining health and keeping a check on calorie count doesn’t imply good diet. You need to ensure that your diet is meeting your nutrition quota for the day. A good diet should be based on the intake of nutrients more than the calorie count.

The fad of healthy life has skewed the meaning of health management. Losing weight or building muscle doesn’t mean you are fit or healthy. Being healthy is far more than just your outer body. Though it is not bad to keep a track of your day to day physical activities and eating habits, one needs to focus on the rest of the above-mentioned aspects as well in order to achieve a perfectly healthy mind and body.

 

4 Ways Smartphones Can Help Patients and Doctors Save Valuable Time

The past couple of years have seen the monumental impact that the smartphone has had on our everyday lives. From banking to retail, to manufacturing…there is hardly an industry that has not been touched by the smartphone revolution. Healthcare is no different. The smartphone has made inroads into the healthcare segment to improve efficiencies and aid decision-making. Modern-day healthcare mobile apps, leveraging digital technologies, cloud computing, etc. are working towards upending every aspect of healthcare and place the doctor and the patient in the centre stage.

The smartphone revolution had also led to the consumerization of healthcare. Patients want to now take charge and be in control of their healthcare decisions, want more clarity regarding healthcare and demand value of their time. At the same time, physicians juggling multiple clinics and hospitals demand more control of their time.

In this blog, we take a look at a few ways smartphones can assists doctors and patients save valuable time.

Access to Complete Health Records

Physical documents are not only hard to manage but also prone to getting lost and can be difficult to organise. In most cases, healthcare history and health records are stored in fragments…some with a medical practitioner, some at a hospital or some at home, etc. In order to save time during a consultation, having access to the complete medical history saves both the physicians’ and the patients’ time. Mobile apps can be used to upload the patient’s complete health history, lab reports, test results, pathological reports, prescriptions, x-rays, etc. which can be securely accessed both by the doctor and the physician. No time is then lost rummaging for information since all of it is documented in an organised manner on the handy smartphone itself and can be accessed anytime, anywhere.

Clearer Communication

How many times have you, as a patient, gone and spent time waiting at a doctor’s clinic only to be told that you need to come back after conducting certain tests? Even doctors, who always are time constrained, have spent time with patients going through their records only to realise that they need to send the reports for a consult with someone else or need the patient to go for another round of tests.

The healthcare scenario is replete with such examples where better communication between the patient and doctor could help both capitalise their time and reduce time wastage. Smartphone health apps can improve the channels of communication between doctors and patients. Since all the health care records, data and information are stored and uploaded to the application, the doctors can easily access these and identify if additional investigations need to be conducted, additional consults need to be made or if the patient can be sent a message regarding any vital piece of information to manage his/her health. The doctors can also share the patients’ medical report with other doctors for consultation with just a tap on the screen which also contributes to saving a lot of time.

Further, using the smartphone, doctors can send patients automated updates regarding health management and pre and post-op management instead of having to do so physically.

With access to their health data, patients too can ask more relevant and focused questions to their doctors. They can discuss medications, side effects, health impacts of their current physical condition etc. more accurately with their doctors. This ensures that the time spent with the physician is optimised and the discussion there is result-driven.

Finance Management

Medical finances can be quite complex to manage and lead to a lot of time wastage for both, the doctor and the patient. Smartphone apps can help immensely here by keeping track of all medical expenses for the patient. Medical bills, doctors’ fees, insurance claims details, cost of lab reports, hospital reports etc. can all be stored the mobile app and accessed from the smartphone whenever required. For doctors too, mobile apps can be of great help in making finance management simpler and more organised. Instead of wasting their time managing their financial transactions and making sure that these are organised, doctors can simply use a smartphone app to centrally store and manage all financial information such as transactions, referral fees, consultation charges, clinic and hospital billings etc. easily and access them whenever needed easily.

Analyse This

Data is king. It gives us detailed and quantified insights to make better and well-informed decisions – both for the patients and the doctors. Better decisions mean better health and patient management which consequently translates to optimal time usage and lesser time wastage. Access to medical health analytics can be easy using a good smartphone app. These apps compare health history, evaluate crucial checkpoints, and reveal relevant data that gives patients intelligent insights into their current state of health. Armed with this information the patients can take preventive steps to improve their health and avoid medical problems.

Doctors also can leverage healthcare analytics to better schedule their time and take a more preventive approach to health and disease management. Analysing medical and health data can inform doctors when patients tend to get sick most, the kind of health risks emerge at which times in the year, what kind of tests are being run repeatedly, what factors are contributing to repeated ailments etc. Analytics also helps in better clinic and practice management – all of this ensure that the time at hand can be used for the best purpose.

Clearly, time today has become the ultimate commodity and a common denominator for both physicians and patients. As the smartphone becomes a ubiquitous part of our lives, it only makes sense to use it to increase the time efficiency of our healthcare interactions and make sure that the time doctors and patients have at hand is utilised in the best possible manner – in decisive conversations that make health better.

Improve Your Heart Health with These Super Foods

Heart health is no longer a matter of concern for the elderly only. Even in their early twenties, men and women suffer from health ailments that can be fatal. According to a senior consultant cardiologist at a well-known hospital, India is currently witnessing around two million heart attacks a year with a majority of the victims being the youngsters. One person dies every 33 seconds because of a heart attack!

While some heart conditions that cannot be prevented, most concerns can be avoided. With these superfoods in your daily diet, curbing a heart attack will get easier.

Superfoods

Although superfoods have been around for a long time, the health benefits have come to light only recently. Superfoods are super rich in nutrients and antioxidants. They are beneficial for one’s health and can prevent terminal illnesses. Here are some of the superfoods you may love or hate, but can tremendously help in improving your heart health!

Walnuts

Walnuts top the nut list for heart-healthy superfoods. The distinct ‘brain’ shaped nut is high in Omega-3 fatty acids. Walnuts contain higher quality antioxidants that fight free radicals responsible for heart diseases. Craving for a sugary snack? Snack on a handful of walnuts every day. The goodness they give you is more than your daily portion of fruits and vegetables, combined!

Salmon

Salmon is the star on the heart superfood list. This oily fish is high in Omega-3 fatty acids and super rich in proteins, Vitamins B and D. Regular consumption of Salmon lowers triglycerides by 50%. Triglycerides is the bad fat that increases the cholesterol in your body. This Omega-3 rich fish has proven to lower the risk of arrhythmias (abnormal heartbeat). It also reduces the mortality rate of those with congestive heart conditions.

Oranges

An orange a day keeps your arteries healthy! This citrus fruit is high in flavonoids that help lower heart conditions caused by clots. Vitamin C present in oranges is linked with lower heart diseases. Oranges are rich in potassium, magnesium, fiber, and beta-carotene too. Several studies have shown that the chemicals present in oranges reduce blood cholesterol levels by 20-25%. Beware of the hidden sugars in the packaged orange juices, though.

Garlic

Garlic is a blood thinner. Garlic makes the blood consistency such that it easily passes through blood vessels. Garlic is high in bioflavonoids and contains sulfur which gives protection from calcium deposits and reduces the size of arterial plaque. It promotes adequate blood circulation. Regular consumption of garlic in your diet lowers the risk of blood stagnation and passage blockages by unhealthy fats.

Dark Chocolate

Dark chocolate has got a plenty of attention for being good for the heart and here is why. The cocoa bean is rich in flavonoids and antioxidants. This is the perfect recipe for a healthy heart. Flavanol is the main flavonoid present in chocolate. It helps lower the blood pressure and improve the blood flow to the brain and heart. It also enables blood to clot by making the blood platelets less sticky.

Kale

Kale has risen to fame over the last couple of years. Kale is a nutrient-packed superfood. It has minerals, vitamins, and much more. It even has bile acid sequestrants which help lower the cholesterol levels. A study showed that consumption of kale juice for 12 weeks increased the level of ‘good’ cholesterol. Kale is also known to be one the world’s best sources of Vitamin K.

Oatmeal

Another superfood for your heart is the humble oatmeal. It is packed with omega 3 fatty acids, folate, and potassium. It is rich in fiber which is good for the digestive tract. This superfood can lower the levels of bad cholesterol and keep your arteries clear. Oatmeal helps curb type 2 diabetes and helps in weight loss as well.

Avocados

Avocados are nutrient packed and good for your heart. They have good fats and are free from sodium and cholesterol. This superfood cuts down your saturated fat intake without compromising on calories. Just eating healthy fats is not enough. Ensure that you are exercising to burn off the calories consumed too!

Olive Oil

Olive oil is the secret to the healthy hearts of the Mediterranean folks. It prevents the formation of blood clots and excess blood coagulation. It raises the level of good cholesterol while lowering the bad cholesterol and triglycerides in the body.

Acai Berries

Known as the miracle berry, this berry is full of antioxidants and vitamins. Acai berries are high in flavonoids that prevent plaque buildup in your arteries. They increase the capillary strength, prevent inflammation and lower cholesterol levels.

Of course, simply adding such superfoods in your diet won’t keep you disease-proof. You also need to follow a healthy routine, eat healthy food, and exercise regularly.

Did we miss a super food? Comment here and let us know.

Have you Got Your Annual Check-up Done Yet?

Generally, we visit the doctor only when there is something wrong. Sure, you feel fit and healthy and have not called in sick even once in the past year. But given that we lead very sedentary lives that are high on stress and low on activity, getting that annual health check-up is the only guarantee that your health is at its 100%.

With lifestyle related diseases rampant today, getting regular health check-ups is one way to ensure that you can take a preventive approach to disease management. Some of the factors to take into consideration are your age, family history, and lifestyle choices. Family history, in a number of cases, influences the risk of developing heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and cancer as well. With the help of regular health check-ups, problems can be identified earlier and treated on time. So how should you prepare for a health check-up?

The first step that you should take when preparing to take an annual health exam is by identifying a good physician. Once that has been done prepare a checklist which details:

• Your family medical history

• Types and number of surgeries

• Smoking history

• Medication and immunization list

• Allergies list

• Life changes that impact overall health

• Weight gain

You should also know that there are three kinds of health check-ups; routine physical examination, preventive health check and master health check-up. Preventive health check-ups are especially important for people with risk factors owing to family history or lifestyle choices such as smoking. A routine health exam assesses the condition of an individual’s general health while a master health check-up is more detailed and aids early detection of health problems. According to a number of studies, getting a whole battery of tests annually is not required since some of the invasive ones can actually have a negative health impact in the long term. If you are of relatively good health, have made the right lifestyle choices, and have no family history of heart-related diseases, diabetes, cancer or strokes here are a few things that you should ideally get assessed annually.

Haemogram:

A haemogram is a broad screening blood test to check for anomalies such as anaemia, infection, and other diseases. A haemogram check:

• Haemoglobin

• Packed cell volume

• R.B.C. count

• MCHC/MCV/MCH

• E.S.R.

• Peripheral Smear

• Platelet Count

• Total W.B.C./Differential Count

Biochemical Parameters:

The biochemical profile forms the database for most diagnostic investigations of internal diseases and includes:

• Fasting Sugar

• HbA1C

• Urea /Creatinine

• Uric Acid

• PP Blood Sugar (only for diabetic patients)

Lipid Profile:

Lipid Profile tests help identify an individual’s risk to heart disease and depending on the results, along with other associated factors, are taken into consideration to develop a treatment plan.

• Total Cholesterol

• HDL Cholesterol

• LDL Cholesterol

• Triglycerides

• Total Cholesterol /HDL Ratio

Liver Function Tests:

Liver Function Tests, also known as Liver Enzyme Tests are done to detect if the liver is functioning properly. These tests detect inflammation and damage to the liver and check the level of the certain liver enzymes. A typical Liver Function test will include:

• Total Protein/Albumin/Globulin

• SGPT/SGOT

• Alkaline Phosphatase

• GGTP

• S. Bilirubin

General Tests:

Apart from the above tests, there are a couple of preventive tests that fall under the category of general tests to check the overall health of an individual and identify if he/she is at risk for deadly diseases like cancer. These tests include:

• Complete Urine Analysis

• Stool Test(optional)

• ECG (Resting)

• X-Ray Chest

• Ultrasonogram of the abdomen

• Pap Smear (for women)

• Clinical examination

Along with getting all these tests done make sure that you keep a record of them as well. Instead of keeping mounds of physical records that can be easily displaced, look at digitizing them and store them on a secure healthcare platform that you can easily access from your smartphone. That way you are in control of your medical history and can pull it out whenever you need – anytime, anywhere.