Electronic tools can improve health

By • Published: February 3rd, 2010
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

Think about this the next time you plug your stats into an online calculator to find out your body mass index or take a quiz to assess your risk for depression: Using electronic tools like these could actually help you improve your health.

Researchers from the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health say using electronic tools and devices like cell phones can help people stick to their medications and even accomplish goals like quitting smoking.

A few strokes on the keyboard can connect you to hundreds of electronic tools aimed at improving your healthy savvy. For example, the government’s Web site geared toward getting people to snuff out their cigarettes boasts several quizzes, an online quit guide and even an electronic craving journal. A new tool featured on the Surgeon General’s site allows families to assemble online health histories they can share, too.

The first question researchers wanted to answer? Whether using these types of programs could have a negative effect on patients.

The scientists found that electronic tools and devices are not only harmless for patients to use, they also expand the reach of health care and could give underserved or uninsured patients more access to information about preventive care.

Cell phone apps, calculators, quizzes and the like can’t take the place of a real doctor, though, so it’s best to check with your physician instead of relying completely on online tools.

But it can never hurt to know your B-M-I or use an online journal to quit smoking. You just might tap your way to better health, one keyboard stroke at a time.