Doctor-Patient Communication, eHealth, Fitness, Lifestyle , , , , , , , , ,

A Step in the Right Direction

Mobile fitness trackers are becoming increasingly popular around the world. Parks Associates approximated that 13.6 million fitness trackers were sold in 2013 and project 121 million to be sold in 2018. A Stanford University School of Medicine article, Integrating Mobile Fitness Trackers Into the Practice of Medicine, highlights interests among physicians and other healthcare professionals about utilizing personal fitness tracking data collected with these devices to help them improve and customize patient care during and between doctors’ visits. The benefits of such technologies are encouraging, however the limitations must be reduced before clinical applications can be widely adopted.

Benefits of mobile fitness trackers:

+ Users are motivated to adopt a healthier lifestyle

+ Social networks linked with devices provide platforms for like-minded users to connect

+ Environments of sustainability and accountability are established enabling users to reach and maintain health goals

Limitations of mobile fitness trackers:

– Devices are not regulated by any one organization or agency

– Accuracy of measurements are unconfirmed

– Measurement metrics (e.g. number of steps) may not reflect true health status

As either a user of fitness trackers or a healthcare professional, what are other benefits and limitations you have noticed and how do you see fitness trackers being used in the future?

Photo source: Wikipedia


  • jess202015

    As an owner of a fitness tracker (a Fitbit), I can definitely say that some of the appeal fades with time. Though I still wear mine and check it, the excitement of competing with friends and family members has dulled, which in turn weakens the "accountability" factor. They're also very easy to misplace, so I can see that being a challenge to less motivated patients.

  • shaunala

    I can relate. My first try with my Fitbit lasted about 2-3 weeks and then I forgot to charge it and consequently forgot all about it for several months. However, the second try, I really got into it. I think it was because I was no longer competing with friends, but was just trying to improve personally. I know it's different for everyone, but for me the competition aspect was more discouraging that motivating. I like seeing my trends over time and try not to focus too much on doing better than yesterday, because there is a point at which you just can't take any more steps in a day without neglecting other responsibilities. Besides there are other aspects of health, like social, emotional, dietary, etc. that are equally important to consider, not just the number of steps per day.