Join the FHS Fitbit Challenge
Almost one year ago, a visit from two healthy friends encouraged me to go out and purchase a fitness tracker called a Fitbit Flex. The wristband device has the ability to monitor a number of things, including steps, calories, distance travelled, active minutes, sleep habits, and much more. Throughout the day it automatically syncs with any smart device that has the Fitbit app installed, such as an iPhone, so that you can see how you’re doing and stay on top of your personal fitness goals. As an added bonus, you can connect with other Fitbit-owning friends and challenge each other to a friendly fitness competition.
Following the visit from our friends last August, I promised to check back in with my blog readers on whether the device had helped me to improve my overall health. I’m now happy to report that the Fitbit has been a great motivator for me, as I’ve worn the device on my wrist everyday over the last 11 months and used it to track a number of healthy habits.
I was reminded of last year’s blog post following Fitbit’s impressive initial public offering earlier this month. On opening, shares were priced at $20, valuing the company at roughly $4.1 billion US. However, by the end of day one, shares were up 52% of that, trading just above the $30 mark. And while the company has a number of big competitors (namely the Apple watch), the company has already sold over 20 million devices – roughly 70% of the current wearable technology market.[i]
The ability of a wearable fitness device to connect with information networks is being touted as one of the defining factors for successful device companies, along with invisibility and overall feature set. Yet all of that falls behind the importance of the monetary benefits a device can provide – and this is where the healthcare industry comes in. “For now, medical applications would appear to have the inside track,” explains IHS Technology in a new report. “There is a clear linkage between the use of some wearable devices and the delivery of improved patient outcomes and reduced healthcare costs.”[ii]
In fact, a Queen’s alumni, Paul Shore, is involved in a company called Tractivity. This company focuses on the use of a wearable activity monitor for in-hospital patients, with evidence showing that this type of feedback to both patients and their health providers, can have beneficial outcome effects like reduced hospital stay.
Certainly, the use of wearable devices in healthcare is now exploding, with wearable medical devices expected to account for roughly half of the overall market by 2016. Already, we are seeing how remote monitoring of patients can be effective in reducing clinical and hospital visits, thereby reducing system costs. For example, diabetics are more regularly being outfitted with continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) devices to help manage insulin levels.[iii] Some hospitals are going much further and monitoring patients with wearable devices that sync with electronic medical records.[iv] These are just a few ways wearable devices could be useful in promoting healthier living and keeping people out of the hospital.
While we continue to explore the innovative use of wearable technology to track patient health, I believe we could also be using them to promote a healthy work-life balance for people who work within the healthcare industry. Building on last week’s blog, which focused on student wellness, I’d like to take this opportunity to challenge the Fitbit-wearing students, staff, faculty, and alumni of the Faculty of Health Sciences to a little friendly competition. Starting on Monday, July 6th, we’ll encourage participants to wear a Fitbit and monitor the number of steps they take each day. At the end of the week, we’ll report back on the winner of the challenge and present them with a prize!
I welcome your thoughts on the use of wearable technology for both patients and providers in healthcare in the comments below – or better yet, walk on over to the Macklem House, my door is always open.
Steps to joining The FHS Fitbit Challenge:
- Purchase a Fitbit, download the Fitbit app, and create an account.
- Email FHS Communications Coordinator Emma Woodman (firstname.lastname@example.org) with your Fitbit email to be automatically entered into the “Workweek Hustle” challenge (see the app for rules). Only ten people can participate in each challenge, so multiple challenges may be required based on participation levels.
- Encourage your friends and colleagues to join the challenge. You can use the Wellness Committee’s Twitter hashtag #keepsmewell to share your progress.
- The winner will be announced on Monday, July 13, 2015.
* If you use an alternative fitness tracker, contact Emma and we’ll organize a way for you to participate.