By The Early Edition, CBC News

Emergency room physician prescribes more seniors to use smartphone apps to monitor their health

A Vancouver emergency doctor is prescribing more seniors to use mobile apps and wearable technology to monitor their health.

“They come into the emergency department and say they have a racing heart, but by the time I see them it is gone,” said Dr. Kendall Ho, an emergency doctor and director of University of British Columbia’s e-Health Strategy Office.

A lot can change by the time concerned patients see a doctor, but mobile apps that monitor blood pressure, keep track of calorie intake and food allergies can help patients monitor themselves in the meantime, he says.

“Now people can measure themselves and quantify themselves,” Ho told the CBC.

The cost of the technology has come down and the popularity of mobile devices has gone up making it affordable and easy to use.

But he warns patients that these are just tools to improve and monitor their health and they still need to work with their doctor to get the best results.

Here are his five tips for using tech to monitor your health:

  1. Get help from a health care professional – Dr. Ho says seniors shouldn’t use apps without the help of their health care professionals and family doctors. He says it is a great monitoring tool, but seniors should keep in mind it is not a diagnosis tool.
  2. Pick a good app – There are a lot of apps out there, says Dr. Ho. It is important to work with your doctor to pick an app that meets your needs. It is also important to look at the app’s ratings.
  3. Don’t overreact – Don’t become a hypochondriac. Technology does allow seniors to monitor their heart rate, blood sugar and now seniors can access their lab tests before seeing a doctor, but Dr. Ho says don’t overreact when you see your test result as abnormal.
  4. Pair up with wearables – Dr. Ho says wearables have made it possible for seniors to monitor themselves at home, many can be paired up with apps for more accurate results.
  5. Beware of privacy – There are many tools out there now that gather different kinds of information, says Dr. Ho. He warns patients that they should be aware and comfortable with the apps privacy policy before they start using it.

A more innovative health care system can start now.