Data, data, data! If there’s one thing the modern world can’t get enough of, it’s information. The same is true for the health industry. Over the last few years, we’ve seen an explosion of new products to measure everything from your steps to your body fat percentage. While every techy tool may not be necessary for non-Olympians, many of them can be very helpful even for non-athletes.
To help make our list of essential health tools, we invited Matthew Anderson, MD, a clinical innovation leader for Banner Innovation Group to share a few of his favorites, including some new tech and old classics. How many of these do you already have?
1. Blood Pressure Cuff
Dr. Anderson explained, “For anyone with a history of high blood pressure or who takes blood pressure medication, this is key for measuring how your blood pressure changes over time. Knowing your baseline from at-home measurements will help show your clinician how you’ve progressed.”
The scale is simultaneously one of the most owned and most avoided monitoring tools around. If you aren’t perfectly satisfied with your health, your weight can be a point of anxiety. While weight is one of many factors used to evaluate your overall health, monitoring your weight is one of the simplest ways to keep track of progress. Today’s smart scales are able to estimate body fat percentage and other metrics to help you in your fitness and nutrition goals. Make sure your scale is easily accessible for use about once every week.
This one is a classic. But the technology has not been stagnant. Gone are the days when you had to hold the stick under your kids tongues and don’t even ask your grandparents about their childhood thermometer experiences. Digital thermometers are evolving to be instant, accurate and completely non-invasive, with infrared technology that doesn’t even have to touch your kid’s forehead. “Stop squirming!”
Your doctor wears one. Your child has one in their playset. But, do you have a stethoscope at home? While these devices could be a little intimidating for parents and at-home users, they can be very helpful. You can listen to lungs, heart and many other bodily functions to look out of early signs of issues or to track progress in recovery. If you have heart arrhythmias or other known issues, stethoscopes can help you get even more insight into your daily health.
If your kid is complaining about an earache, an otoscope is the best way for you to get an idea of what might be going on. You should still visit a pediatrician to make a diagnosis for ear infections and the sort. But when it comes to small toys, food and crayons, an at-home otoscope will shine a light on anything crammed up your little one’s ears and nose.
6. Smart Watch
Today’s smart watches do more than show you a text message at the flick of your wrist. Devices like the latest Apple Watch pack several useful monitoring tools into a tiny square attached to your wrist. Your watch may be able to measure your blood oxygen levels, count your steps, estimate your calorie burn, monitor your heart rate and even perform an electrocardiogram. Your watch may not operate with the same accuracy as dedicated tools, but the fact that you can measure all of these metrics instantly throughout the day makes a smart watch an excellent device for keeping up on your health.
Monitor at Home. Discuss with a Doctor.
Having these tools at home is a great way to stay familiar with your body. With a little study and practice, you can make great habits that will help alert you to issues and illnesses. Of course, some minor sicknesses can be diagnosed and treated at home. But, be sure to visit your primary care physician if you’re feeling particularly ill. After all, there’s no replacement for wellness exams and trained, experienced professionals. What other tools do you use regularly for yourself and your family?