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Google Fit and Other Fitness Trackers

I’ve always been intrigued by the various fitness trackers. I’ve never been that excited about their pure healthcare value, but I do believe that the amount we move (or don’t move) matters to our health. So, it makes since to track how much we move as one element of your health.

The problem I’ve had with all the fitness trackers I’ve used is that they end up in a drawer far too quick. In fact, I could never reliably wear one. My wife did better and made it a few weeks, but I just hated having a device attached to me. So, it never worked for me. (Side Note: HIMSS16 has a fitness challenge and they’re even accepting donations of fitness tracker devices you have gathering dust in your drawer.)

The closest I’ve come to a fitness tracker working for me is my cell phone. I was excited when my Samsung Galaxy S5 had the S Health app loaded on it and would track my steps and it could even do my heart rate. It was novel to see my step counts and see the trend over time. I was always excited when I’d go dancing and my step count would go through the roof and blow away all the goals that it had set for me.

I’ve since switched to the Google Nexus phone which has Google Fit built in. It has a similar step tracker and I definitely turned on Google Fit when I started with the phone. However, then I never heard or saw any notifications about it. I did’t really even realize it was on. Then, this week I got the notification from it that Google Fit was going to be disabled to save my battery since I hadn’t opened it in a long time (I can’t remember how many months they said).

What can I say? I totally forgot that it was even tracking me and it didn’t tell me that it was doing it. I do remember getting a notification or two that I’d had an active hour or something, but I’d just give myself a pat on the back and swipe off the notification. I guess that’s not considered using the app.

The other reason I probably didn’t care as much about the Google Fit tracking is that I knew that it was only tracking a small part of my movement since the cell phone is often with me, but not always. I work from home and so when I’m home I take my cell phone out of my pocket and it sits on my desk all day. That means it’s not tracking any of my movement during most days. I also play a lot of sports and I don’t want my cell phone in my pocket while I play. I guess that’s why all the Fitness trackers are these little devices that you could potentially wear while playing. Although, that feels like work and for what value?

Many have been dealing with this for years. What’s interesting is that I’ve been watching it for years as well and not much has changed. Is it nice that Google Fit is tracking my activity with almost no effort from me? Definitely, but with all the gaps in data it’s collecting, is that data really all that meaningful?

Would love to hear other people’s experiences with these trackers. Is there something new that’s changed your perspective on things?

February 10, 2016 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

Fitness Tracking Apps and Cell Phone Batteries

One of the big challenges of any mobile health app is how much it drains your battery. While processing power, storage, and pretty much every other technology in a cell phone has improved the one nut we haven’t yet cracked is batteries. Although, I’m hopeful that we’re close to cracking the innovation in batteries soon too.

Until we do, battery usage is always a concern with mobile health applications. This is particularly true with passive activity tracking apps. They can suck your battery dry if they’re not designed properly and we all know how quickly apps get removed from our phones if they’re responsible for reducing our battery life.

One passive fitness tracker, Human, has tackled this problem head on. Here’s how Techcrunch describes their efforts to minimize Human’s drain on your battery:

The app now relies as much as possible on the motion coprocessor in your iPhone 5s, 6 or 6s. Human now has 50 percent less battery impact. And if you really need to get the most out of your phone, there is a new low power mode to reduce battery usage by up to 90 percent.

Until we solve the batter problems we all face, we’re going to see more effort spent on how we manage battery usage. We saw the same problem with the original Google Glass. The battery on the original Google Glass was about 30 minutes of active usage (ie. video). I read one report that Google Glass 2.0 is going to last 22 hours by comparison.

What other battery improvements do you see happening to help mobile health applications?

November 4, 2015 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

Future Google Medical Tracking Watch

I don’t know how I missed the news that Google is making a medical watch focused on tracking your health. Here’s an excerpt from The Verge article:

The wristband is being developed by Google X, the secretive lab behind projects like Glass, Loon, and the company’s self-driving cars. It won’t be available to general consumers. Instead, Google intends for the device to be used in clinical trials and prescribed to medical patients.

Talk about a fundamentally different way to approach a smart watch. The last line begs the question of whether the Google Watch is going to be FDA cleared. It seems like it would need to be if it’s being “prescribed” to patients.

I find this approach absolutely intriguing and a welcome site in healthcare. I’ve often said that a company whose built in the capability of getting a device or app FDA cleared is going to have a big advantage over the thousands of mHealth companies which are just skirting by without an FDA clearance. It seems that Google is building this capability which will put it in a prime place to really disrupt healthcare.

Obviously, it’s very early in the process of them creating an FDA cleared (assuming they go that direction) Google smart watch, but the idea is intriguing. I think it’s going to take an FDA cleared smart watch to really get the attention of doctors.

July 8, 2015 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.