Thinking of A&E after a not-so App-y Easter

Mental health shows way for healthcare technology

Are you, like me, feeling quite guilty after recently enjoying chocolate and other treats over Easter?

One BBC article revealed that NHS bosses in Middlesbrough actually had to warn people eating that “one too many” Easter egg, to stay away from A&E with their self-inflicted stomach aches.

The reality that A&E pressures could be worsened by such a thing as eating too much chocolate, shocked me a little. I know that I overindulged over the weekend but in no way did I get myself to a point where I felt I needed medical attention.

NHS A&E waiting times in England have recently reached record highs and situations like the one highlighted in Middlesbrough do not help. It made me think that one of the struggles the NHS has is actually getting us, as the public and essentially the patient, to realise we need to take care of ourselves.

Upon returning to work, after the long, lazy weekend, I decided to dust off of the health apps on my phone.

Health apps are on the rise. There are now more than 165,000 health-related apps out there, the majority falling into fitness, diet and nutritional categories; over 53% to be exact.

I, like a lot of people, have a busy commute to and from work each day meaning I have to be very efficient with my time outside of work to meet my fitness goals. Apps, by nature of being on my phone, are a very convenient tool to use. On top of this I am terrible for coming up with reasons as to why I shouldn’t go to the gym, or why it would just be easier to not think about watching what I eat – I have no excuse with apps on my phone as I generally have access to them at all times.

One fitness app, called Withings, measures my steps every day and also the amount of exercise I do in the gym. It sends me messages when I have achieved goals and also when I haven’t been doing much activity. My procrastination for fitness activity means these features are vital for motivating myself.

A diet app, called My Fitness Pal, enables me to plan what I eat each day, set goals that I want to reach and provides me with an allowance of how much I can eat to achieve my desired physique. I can automatically add online recipes for meals I eat and link exercise data on my fitness app to calculate how many calories and I am consuming and burning. Again, this is incredibly convenient for me and I actually find it quite addictive.

Both of these apps have worked their way into my lifestyle perfectly. They are incredibly efficient to use and while they take a few weeks of getting used to, they have become second nature to me.

In today’s modern world, we almost rely on technology, and most people have a mobile device of some sort in their pocket that basically acts as a mini computer. Also, access to tools that help manage our health and wellbeing has never been easier, so there is one less excuse for not looking after ourselves.

So let’s use the technological tools available to us to keep ourselves fit and healthy. Apps help us plan, monitor and meet our personal health goals. This can help reduce unnecessary or avoidable hospital visits. If we start by using the resources available to us, we can play our part in supporting the bigger picture – making sure our national health service stays alive and well.

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