Real healthcare reform should include mobile activity trackers

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.
Written by Matthew Miller, Contributing Writer
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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