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Using Technology To Track Health Data

Many hospitals are either making the switch to electronic health records or considering the move. According to the Pew Research Center's Internet and American Life Project, more individuals are now using smart phones and other devices to track their own health data. Better tracking may help prevent medical mistakes and lead to improved health for those making the change. While many people use cell phone applications to track weight, smart phones are also useful for tracking data connected with chronic ailments such as diabetes.

In the last year, the number of companies working on electronic methods to help individuals track their health information has increased by 35 percent. There are now almost 13,000 health and fitness applications on the market. According to the Pew study, 21 percent of all individuals who track their health data use technology to do so. The remaining people primarily use paper records or simply try to remember the data.

Technology can help a patient identify patterns or track behaviors that impact their health. According to the survey, people who tracked multiple chronic conditions were led to ask new questions of their doctors, seek second opinions, or even change their treatment decisions. Technology could help patients take a greater role in their medical care.

Medical mistakes are often the result of missed or incorrect information. Patients often feel discouraged to ask questions or take an active role in their treatment. If technology helps patients feel empowered to manage their own care and gives doctors more information to make the best decisions for their patients, the benefits could be tremendous.

Source: The New York Times, "More Using Electronics to Track Their Health," by Milt Freudenheim, 27 January 2013

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