4

Dec

2019

Cellular Helper: How our phones can change the culture of care

Health literacy    Personal

The use of mobile technology is impacting over two billion users. To put that into perspective, that is a larger number than the respective following for every major religion around the world. You could say that the cell phone is the most powerful device ever to be introduced to mankind. Through our phones, social media is becoming almost everyone’s intermediate best friend, news source and virtual connector. Almost every teenager and adult has a mobile device in their hands, and they are looking at that screen approximately 150 times per day. This is hindering our ability to interact organically, as our human social interactions are substituted for texts, whatsapps and social media messaging.

Such high volumes of use clearly constitutes addictive behavior. Experts have cited how such extensive use of mobile technology has a negative effect on us physically and emotionally, not just socially. In fact, brain studies illustrate that when cognitive functions are being performed and an individual hears their phone alert them to a text or call, the stress hormone cortisol rises significantly, remaining high until the message can be read. 

Examining the dynamics of how we see our mobile devices makes one wonder where this psycho-digital evolution will stop. Developments in virtually every tech space over the past five years have outpaced the developments in similar industries from the previous 60. The future holds infinite possibilities, we simply have to harness the potential for life-improvement by providing appropriately balanced channels that compliment, rather than exploit, our insatiable desire to be connected digitally. Indeed, when it comes to understanding and improving our health I believe our unbreakable connectivity with our phones can be an invaluable asset.

The majority of patients, when they encounter a medical malady, turn to Google. Our favorite search engine is itself an ocean of information that is nigh on impossible to navigate unless a person has some degree of medical training to help them comprehend what is useful and what doesn’t apply to their condition. This is especially true while recovering from surgery, or any of the complex but commonplace medical procedures we are all likely to go through at some point in our lives.

Through the tethered mobile, we have an incredible opportunity to connect the patient with all relevant data about their self care responsibility. The use of simple messaging that can direct patients through complex at home procedures is an obvious and effective use of a technology we often associate with negative health issues. Studies show that compliance of such self care tasks increased from 35 percent to more than 85 percent with a simple text reminder. 

As with all technology, there is a risk of undue entanglement with our lives. The cell phone, and all that it can channel, is certainly one of those technologies. Doubtless, we should respect and remain aware of its addictive impact. However, that is not to dismiss, or ignore its potential. Based on relevant studies and common sense, I believe we all can benefit from specific directed information related to our health being delivered by this technology.


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