It seems that everyone is addicted to their smartphones these days, but the good news according to a new study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine is technology may actually help you live a healthier life. After conducting a controlled, randomized trial, researchers found that when patients used personal digital assistant devices (PDAs) to track their fruit and vegetable intake and their activity levels, they showed improvement in these areas and progress persisted throughout a follow-up period of 20 weeks.
“This study’s interventions leveraged handheld technology to create efficient interventions that make self-monitoring more convenient, extend decision support into life contexts where lifestyle choices are made, and convey time-stamped behavioral data to paraprofessionals who provide coaching remotely,” said the study’s authors.
According to the study, many doctors believe a major barrier to care is the fact that patients do not follow their doctor’s instructions at home or long term. Because physicians are so overloaded with patient numbers and administrative tasks, there is little time for patient follow up and progress tracking. The use of PDA devices allows doctors to see the progress their patients are making and it also holds patients accountable through remote coaching.
Even if your doctor does not assign you a progress tracking system, consider downloading an app on your smartphone, iPad or computer that allows you to track your meals, caloric intake, exercise routines, medications and any other health programs you follow. As this study notes, checking in daily and seeing your progress can help you achieve your healthcare goals.