5 September 2014 Can a Fitness Tracker Save Your Life?

Perhaps not everyone can find the value of a fitness tracker in their lives. That’s okay. For those of us who use them daily, we understand. It gets harder when those in the medical fields make claims that tracking fitness (and calories) does little good. One doctor in Kansas, however, has set out to prove the value (i.e. the lifesaving value!) of fitness trackers.

His argument is based on discourse around whether or not technology actually improves lives, makes our days more efficient, etc. The article that spurred the debate was titled, “Guess what? Doctors don’t care about your Fitbit data”, in which Mark Sullivan writes, “sources in the medical devices, digital health, and healthcare industries say that most doctors have little time for, or interest in, using wellness data collected by wearable devices. They don’t want to spend money on additional (and unproven clinical systems), and most of all, they don’t want to worry about keeping the data private”.

Wichita, Kansas, doctor, Josh Umbehr, says he “cracked the code” for using data from devices like Fitbit (which can link with MyNetDiary). What Dr. Umbehr has done is simple consolidation, as well as giving himself time to actually work with patients’ data. Instead of seeing up to 30 patients a day in his office, he sees up to 30 patients a week. The extra time he and his partners afford themselves allows him to work directly with his patients without rushing them in and out the door.

Dr. Umbehr developed a system, AtlasMD, that does everything he needs in the office, from generating invoices to printing labels for pills, to even collecting data from calorie trackers and exercise trackers.

“I used to ask myself, ‘How is it we can place microchips on your skin that can report your blood sugar, but we can’t get that data into a computer?” says Dr. Umbehr in a recent article. He can use his system freely because he is not beholden to insurers. His practice is such that his patients pay a monthly membership fee, also known as Direct Primary Care (DPC).

While he readily admits that “we don’t know what all this data means yet,” what is the key takeaway is that he is sorting through it side-by-side with his patients who are gathering it, so instead of a doctor glancing at one night’s high blood pressure and making a diagnosis, Dr. Umbehr can take the time to look for trends, spikes, dips, and other causes.

It is this time and dedication that argues the case that by considering the full spectrum of data so easily captured these days (through apps like MyNetDiary, Fitbit, and the MyNetDiary GPS Tracker), doctors can position themselves to catch risk factors for diseases and ailments at an earlier stage, and that just might save someone’s life.

Tell us, do you share or discuss your health data with doctors? Do they listen?

Ryan Newhouse

Ryan Newhouse is the Marketing Director for MyNetDiary and writes for a variety of publications. He wants you to check out MyNetDiary on Instagram!

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Disclaimer: The information provided here does not constitute medical advice. If you are seeking medical advice, please visit your healthcare provider or medical professional.


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