When should you turn to an App?

You have probably realized by now that there are big changes occurring in how health care is approached in our country. In addition to the trend for “patient-centered care,” patients are now being empowered by health information websites, online medical resource guides and even mobile apps, which can track and monitor everything from your weight loss to your glucose levels. Although, these technologies actively involve us in our health and health management, it’s always important to keep your doctor involved in your care. Use these tools as aids to your health, knowing there are situations in which you should always turn to your physician. With that in mind, here is my take on when you should – and shouldn’t – use these tools.

Apps are really at their best when they’re helping you to get more involved in your own health. Looking to track just how many calories you’re eating? Want to stay motivated by tracking your daily workout  and sharing with your friends and social network? Are you managing a chronic condition like diabetes or high blood pressure? Apps can be great for all of these and there are a wide variety available so you can find the ones that work best for you.

But don’t forget that you need to share your activities and the health information that you’re collecting during regular visits with your doctor. Your health professional is your partner and he or she needs to know what you know. Working together, you have the greatest chance of achieving your best health.

Finally, if you experience significant changes in your health, do some research but also consult your doctor. And if you have sudden, serious symptoms such as shortness of breath, chest pains, sudden, severe pain anywhere or a serious injury, seek immediate medical attention.

In short, when it comes to online tools: Self-motivation? Yes! Self-empowerment? Yes! Self-diagnosis? No.