Dear Healthcare Professionals, My Diabetes Inklings

#ADSADEA2015 – Technology influencing health behaviour

With the first (and only) session I wanted to head to starting at 9am, I had a fabulous sleep in. If only my diabetes would have let me go to bed earlier. But that’s a story for another time. I was excited at this technology symposium I was attending before heading home back to my fur baby.

The technology symposium put together all the amazing emerging new technology that exists and how they integrate with health. As Dr Adrienne Oneil highlights, technology is not meant to replace healthcare professionals but to complement them. She also spoke about the use of Artificial Intelligence to help support people with diabetes 24 hours a day, 7 days a week through the My Diabetes Coach program. Not only are diabetes management behaviours monitored, psychosocial aspects of living with diabetes are also tracked such as diabetes distress. Kinda similar to the diabetes online community really.

Josh Guest from B2Cloud spoken about integrating wearable health technology with your mobile. With over 150,000 health apps available to download and use, there is a lot of data being recorded. But how do we interpret and use that data? First we need to find an app that draws information from all the other apps into a central location. The most important part is then displaying data in a fun, enticing format that is simple to understand.

Then there’s gamification where the use of a point reward system through educational video games or logging health behaviours earns you points for your “quest”. Stuart Smith focused on the use of gasification in increasing physical activity. The modern day person either has no motivation, experiences pain during exercise or are simply time poor to do an hour of exercise. Since story telling, playing and games are a part of our livelihood even probably during cavemen times, what better way is there than to use games to motivate change in behaviour.

Most importantly, the use of a virtual health coach, health apps and gamification isn’t unique to just diabetes. It can be applied to a host of other health conditions. For example Josh’s company has developed an award winning app called Brainy App to increase physical activity in people with Alzheimers disease. Stuart spoke about a first person shooter game that teaches kids with cancer about cancer and the importance of their medical treatment. Sadly there are few high quality research studies in these areas due to a variety of reasons. So really, the message here is to highlight to potential of such technology rather than fear it and watch this space!

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