Can Your Fitness Tracker Save Your Life?

Megen Duffy, RN, BSN, CEN, works in hospice case management. She occasionally writes on nursing and digital health topics for AJN.

Fitness trackers and ‘wearables’ are becoming ubiquitous.

Fitness tracker “wearables” have become mainstream, with sales projected to reach $19 billion by 2018. If you don’t have one, many of your patients probably do, particularly this time of year when fitness goals are at the forefront of many New Year’s resolution lists. Wearables can track a lot of things, and people are claiming that they save lives. Are they all that? First, here’s a brief overview of wearables types and their uses.

Popular wearable brands include Fitbit (with 79% of sales), Jawbone, Nike, Apple (Apple Watch is a smart watch that has fitness tracker functionality), Garmin, and Misfit. Prices run from about $50 to as much as you want to spend: an Apple Watch costs from $275 to more than $10,000, depending on the model.

Increased functions. Wearables have far surpassed their pedometer function. They do all count steps, but now they also track sleep and heart rate and have increasingly more bells and whistles. The newer Fitbits and the new watchOS operating system for the Apple Watch even have “breathe” functions, intended to remind the wearer to take a few minutes several times a day and breathe to promote relaxation.

Wearables (including smart watches) now have extra features such as replaceable bands and the ability […]

2017-06-26T20:34:15+00:00 January 12th, 2017|digital health, personal health practices|0 Comments

Electronic Health Records: Still-Evolving Tools to Help or Hinder Nurses

By Betsy Todd, MPH, RN, CIC, AJN clinical editor

Photo by Marilynn K. Yee/New York Times/Redux Photo by Marilynn K. Yee/New York Times/Redux

One of my earliest memories of electronic health records (EHRs) is the day I had to review a chart at another hospital in the city. As I headed over to medical records, I expected at worst a “big” chart—one of those 15-inch stacks of multiple folders from a long hospitalization. I wasn’t allowed access to their system to view the chart online, so I was escorted into a separate room, in which the printed-out chart was waiting for me.

But their electronic chart wasn’t “printer-friendly,” and the hard copy version now consisted of thousands of pages of documentation spread out over a nine-foot long table. Many of the pages included only a line or two of […]

Nursing and Social Media’s Limits: Real Change Requires Moving Beyond Hashtags and Selfies

Karen Roush, PhD, RN, is an assistant professor of nursing at Lehman College in the Bronx, New York, and founder of the Scholar’s Voice, which works to strengthen the voice of nursing through writing mentorship for nurses.

by rosmary/via Flickr by rosmary/via Flickr

The recent #ShowMeYourStethoscope media campaign has been hailed as a powerful demonstration of the unified voice of nurses and what it can accomplish.

In case you’re not familiar with the incident that led to the outrage–after a Miss America contestant, Kelley Johnson (Miss Colorado), a registered nurse, delivered a monologue about her work for the talent portion of the yearly pageant while dressed in scrubs and wearing her stethoscope, hosts of the television show The View derided her, with one asking why she had on a “doctor’s stethoscope.”

There was soon a vigorous backlash across social media as nurses posted, blogged, and tweeted photos of themselves with stethoscopes, often adding moving descriptions of the situations where they use them or witty comments illustrating the absurdity of the hosts’ remarks.

I found it a heartening response to disrespect and ignorance. Nurses felt empowered and celebrated the opportunity to show the public what nursing is really about.

But has anything really changed? Yes, The View lost some sponsors and was forced to air an apology (albeit unconvincing and rather patronizing). And perhaps there […]

A Tech-Savvy Nurse’s Initial Take on Uses for the Apple Watch

Megen Duffy, RN, BSN, CEN, is currently working in hospice case management and writes AJN‘s iNurse column, which focuses on technology and nursing.

AppleWatchMegenPhotoBPMI’ve had my Apple Watch for several months now. I ordered it at 12:01 the morning they went on sale, and it arrived the Saturday after its Friday release. I was fairly certain I’d return it or sell it for a profit, but I still have it and keep finding new uses for it. I also have ideas for how it could be handy for a variety of fitness and health care scenarios.

Health tracking. Even at this early stage, though, patients and their families are using Apple Watches to track and enhance their health. The Watch tracks your heartbeat—not every second, but often enough that a useful bank of data results. Rumors say that a mystery port on the back of the watch will allow SpO2 tracking soon. I have already busted out my phone to show my cardiologist my heart rate trends, and it saved me from wearing a Holter monitor. That kind of thing is exciting!

Fitness wearables (e.g., Fitbit) and smart watches (e.g., Pebble) have been around for a few years, with sharply increasing popularity. The (often) colored plastic bands people wear around their wrists are the kind of wearable I mean. Pedometers (included in the wearables category) also come in small clips […]

Never Too Late: One Family Practice’s Shift to EHRs after 50 Years of Paper

Editor’s note: We hear a lot about the stress and lack of time for direct patient care that nurses (and physicians) have experienced with the movement to EMRs or EHRs. We’re in a transitional period, and in some instances the use and design of these systems has a long ways to go. But here’s a story with a positive slant, written by someone who might easily have responded very differently, given the circumstances. Change is inevitable; how we react to it throughout our lives, less so. 

By Marilyn Kiesling Howard, ARNP

Niklas Bildhauer/ Wikimedia Commons Niklas Bildhauer/ Wikimedia Commons

I am a nurse practitioner and my husband of 60 years is a family practitioner. We still work full time in our Gulf Breeze, Florida, practice. About five years ago, we first learned that our paper records were becoming archaic and that Medicare was planning to penalize providers who didn’t switch to the use of electronic health records (EHRs) by a certain date.

It was terrible news—we had 50 years of work in the paper chart genre, and were unsure about how to make the transition. Some who were in our position took the pending requirements as an opportunity to retire, but we weren’t ready for that.

Embracing a predigital innovation. In the 1960s, we started a small family practice in Indiana. As we requested our […]

2016-11-21T13:02:42+00:00 April 16th, 2015|digital health, Nursing, Technology|3 Comments