Real healthcare reform should include mobile activity trackers

Real healthcare reform should include mobile activity trackers

Summary: The life activity tracker market is growing as people look for ways to stay motivated and live a healthier life. As healthcare reform hits the US, I think it is time to implement these mobile devices into provider programs.

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Real healthcare reform should include mobile activity trackers
(Image: Fitbit)

Next week, a new US healthcare program starts to roll out and debates about its effectivness and costs continue in Congress. Mobile technology can help make you faster, stronger, and healthier and real reform can take place if incentives that encourage the adoption and use of devices such as the Fitbit, UP, and Fuelband are offered.

This morning there was a statement made by a governor from one of the southern states in reference to the upcoming healthcare program where he stated the statistics showed that the people in his state rated at or near the top in nearly every major health issue (obesity, diabetes, cancer, etc.) and that this new program would solve that problem. I don't think seeing a doctor more often will necessarily lead to better eating, exercise, and living habits and people most often go to the doctor after experiencing a problem.

If healthcare providers were to offer discounted rates or other rewards for tracking and reporting on your health then I think that would be more of an incentive to encourage healthier living. I'm sure if people took the standard 10,000 steps every day for at least 2/3 of the days in a month we would see improved health and less required visits to the doctor over time. That would just be a start as these systems like the Withings Pulse can monitor your heart rate as well as all the other activity data.

I tend to carry a Fitbit or UP primarily as a small reminder to take the stairs more often and when I am feeling competitive with my Fitbit friends. I would carry one of these devices religously and be more inclined to hit the road more often if I was offered savings on my healthcare insurance. These savings would be realized by the healthcare providers since more active people are less likely to need care and thus the costs to all Americans could be reduced.

I understand that there are privacy considerations and concerns that such life activity trackers would become mandatory in the future and then the government would be tracking all of our movements. Shoot, with the recent NSA revelations it looks like everything we do is being tracked anyway.

I see using these activity trackers and fitness devices as an optional part of health plans. I haven't heard of any providers actively supporting the use of these devices, but as this mobile health industry continues to gain in popularity I am sure that some providers must be considering their usage.

Would you carry around a Fitbit if your healthcare provider offered you monetary incentives? I know I would be first on the list and make sure my Fitbit was with me at all times.

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18 comments
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  • No it should'nt

    These things are nearly useless and can be easily tricked to fake the activity level. Maybe in a future generation they will achieve usefulness but the tech now is just novelty class.
    greywolf7
    • yes, they should

      but not because somebody would police this and but because you can clearly see how much you move. Since the type of activity for a particular person is pretty much the same, this person can clearly see the difference between days when he/she moved more or less.
      Maybe it does not sound necessary or useful at the moment. BELIEVE ME after a person gets diagnosed with diabetes type 2 and has to do insulin shots and pop pills, this person would do anything in his/her power to not do this ever,,, and wearing one of those devices is a VERY, VERY small price,,, f--k politics,,, your health is what REALLY matters
      pupkin_z
  • Wont help

    most corporate plans offer discounts for smoke cessation, regular gym visits, wellness visits etc. At the end of the day YOU have to want to live healthier. A fitbit is NOT going to motivate someone to excercise. It is the people who excercise regularly that use fitbits, nike fuel bands etc. You can't legislate or tax to change personal behavior, if we could no one would smoke cigarettes with what they cost and the social stigma attached to them.
    2low_tech
  • And, this, folks, is why nationalized health care

    has been the dream of statists for decades. See how eager the blog author is to tell you how you should live? See, once you get him paying for your medical expenses, he's justified in telling you what you should and should not do. All for your own good however, and only for behaviors he finds personally offensive.

    For example, homosexual activity is one of the highest health risk activities on the planet, but no one is demanding limits on that behavior to reduce health care costs.
    baggins_z
    • Nailed it

      "has been the dream of statists for decades. See how eager the blog author is to tell you how you should live? See, once you get him paying for your medical expenses, he's justified in telling you what you should and should not do. All for your own good however, and only for behaviors he finds personally offensive."

      This exactly. Once Big Govt is in charge, they can mandate any behavior they wish "for the public good". Don't like it? You'll lose your ONLY access to healthcare.

      As far as use of such monitoring devices as being 'optional' -- optional restrictions quickly become 'mandatory', either through explicit rule, or through financial blackmail. "oh, you still have a choice to NOT wear the health monitor -- but your premium will rise by 50% each month. See? It's still your choice!"
      SbySW
    • National Health Care

      I don't think it works like that in countries that provide it.
      rfoto
    • I didn't believe you at first.

      But then I read this article and indeed it looks like there is a secret government plot.

      http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/borowitzreport/2013/09/fox-news-obama-in-plot-to-force-americans-to-live-longer.html
      rfoto
      • Thanks for proving my point.

        You are perfectly willing to tell me how to live. Because it's for my own good. That's the worst kind of tyranny.
        baggins_z
        • Its not tyranny to tell you

          Only to force you. And forcing someone to exercise is impossible.

          America is the second most Obese nation on earth and that impacts everyones healthcare premiums. Heart disease, cancer, diabetes... all affected by body mass, fitness, diet and lifestyle. SOMEBODY needs to tell fatazz Americans to get off their fatazzes.
          Tigertank
  • Really?

    What you have just said is one of the most insanely idiotic things I have ever heard. At no point in your rambling, incoherent response were you even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought. Everyone in this room is now dumber for having listened to it. I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul.
    Grebow25
    • Please site your sources...

      The Geniuses who wrote Billy Madison deserve credit!
      condelirios
    • Sounds...

      A lot like an XKCD comic.
      Subsentient
  • Time for the ebt losers to upgrade obamaphones then

    so they can use then.

    Most foodstampers are in the southern states, eliminating foodstamps would be what we need to decrease obesity & diabetes.

    It would also fix giving them out in exchange for votes.
    everss02
    • If food stamps are given out in exchange for votes...

      ...and most food stamp recipients are southerners, then why do most southern states now vote Republican?
      John L. Ries
  • A touch too intrusive for my taste

    If my doctor wants to know what's up with me, he can ask. I don't let my boss monitor my phone calls at home either.
    John L. Ries
  • Let's give them another reason to track us?

    Seriously, you want to give away another right to privacy? Here is what is wrong with health care of any kind in America. No incentives to loose weight, stop smoking or become physically active. Our health care system treats illness, gives you a pill for your ailment and never addresses the underlying conditions for your bad health. Tracking people might be useful if its for verifying your on a regiment of physical activity and to monitor progress. I see nothing in Obama care that addresses the true nature of our health crisis in America. Its another government band aid that will strain the system. But what can you expect from a government program?
    JohnnyES
  • I knew what kind of comments you'd get

    I already carry a Fitbit in my pocket, but you know that most people don't, and it isn't the cost that is the issue.

    There is a curious psychology operating these days, often driven by sheer ignorance. A municipality near where I work, that operates its own electric utility, turned down a $2 million grant for smartmeters. At a raucous public meeting, people shouted that they didn't want anyone telling them when they could use electricity. (For those that aren't familiar with this system, it allows the utility to OFFER off-peak metering to allow people to lower their bills, and does not allow them to control when you use electricity.) In a previous home, we had off-peak metering for our electric (phooey!) hot water heater that ran on a mechanical timer, but smartmetering doesn't restrict usage.

    In schools, where two 400-pound parents send a 200-pound fourth grader to school, the school is criticized for pointing out that the child's health is at risk.

    Unfortunately, even with the pre-ACA health system, the rest of us pay for this child's most likely extensive health care costs. Oh, and for the parents' as well.

    There is also the story about a school that gave the kids pedometers, but couldn't figure out how the kids with high pedometer step counts weren't losing any weight. Turned out they'd go home and put the pedometer on the dog...
    ibap
  • TECH? Sure! But, pay for the services you need

    The idea is sound, but the premise is flawed and has been since day one.

    Reform the system, give the patients some choice. Yes, Add technology, lots of it. Screening for drug abuse, alcohol abuse, etc. Provide discounts to people who have a VESTED interested in keeping costs under control. Technology and testing is definitely a good tool.

    Further, I've never seen a doctor driving a shabby car.
    mikebellman