Empowering Men to Take Control of Their Health

The Gift of Mobile Technology and Communications for Men 

It’s no secret that men are more likely to neglect their health than women are. In fact, men are 25 percent less likely than women to have visited the doctor in the past year, and almost 40 percent are more likely to have skipped recommended cholesterol screenings.

As a nurse, and as someone whose father has a chronic medical condition, I understand this reluctance. It can stem from not having a doctor they trust (or failing to even look for one), mistakenly believing there is nothing wrong (despite a variety of warning signs, or the symptomless threat of stroke), procrastination (coupled usually with the excuse of being too busy), refusal to spend the money on a doctor’s visit, fear of a potentially serious diagnosis, and worries about invasive procedures. Finally, sheer machismo can be to blame: making him believe, regardless of how miserable he feels or how much pain he’s in, that the manly thing to do is “tough it out.”

The consequences of this stubbornness are real—and scary. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), men are 1.5 times more likely than women to die from heart disease, cancer, and respiratory diseases and, on average, will die five years earlier than women.

These negative attitudes toward healthcare exist across cultures, regions, incomes, and careers. In the case of my father, a man of great knowledge and a diversity of interests, I’ve found it is not productive to answer why he has a general resistance to seeing the doctors; it is only important to figure out how to engage him in regular contact—in the most convenient way possible—with his doctor and nurse.

Now, thanks to the union of innovative technology and customized health applications, there is a new way for men to control their health and communicate with the physician of their choice, all while maintaining more autonomy without having to book repeated visits to the doctor.

This opportunity, complemented by the web and mobile-enabled devices such as smartphones and tablets, is an affordable, fast, and easily manageable way for all people to better structure the care they receive and the alerts they need—from appointment reminders to health alerts.

TRANSFORMING DATA INTO ACTION

In short, mobile-enabled apps and platforms that convert health data into actionable intelligence can make a huge, positive difference in healthcare management. Patients aren’t the only ones who benefit from this—medical apps also help healthcare providers by making it easier to both communicate with their patients and track important health data. This is particularly helpful for those who are chronically ill and require closer management. Further, health apps—and access to the technology—are easy for hospitals, doctors, and other healthcare providers to implement because they don’t require the expertise of IT professionals to build a sophisticated infrastructure to make these features possible.

One such platform, InstantPHR from Get Real Health, is a health management and activation hub that allows patients to actively manage their health—all from their mobile devices. This platform—with its emphasis on self-management and health-based reminders, journals, questionnaires and assessments, disease-specific trackers, customized health recommendations, and personalized target ranges—is a powerful catalyst for men to take an active interest in their health.

Get Real Health can configure the app so it collects the data that the provider wants it to collect. The information is available to both the healthcare provider and patient any time, any day, as well as links to various home healthcare repositories, such as Microsoft HealthVault, among others.

Meaning: My father can view his medical files and documents, exchange secure messages with his doctor, and record, organize, safeguard, and view (at his leisure) other relevant news about his health.

In addition, the “patient dashboard” is easy to use: It uses a visual, dynamic hub to record and monitor individual activity. In a single view, patients can see a snapshot of their overall health, survey upcoming appointments, check messages from their care team, and read personalized health recommendations and medical education materials. Many other healthcare apps feature similar operations.

These advantages are an invitation to mobilize men, through the user-friendly design of mobile devices, so they may become better custodians of their own health. For my father, and for all men and women who seek an easier way to dialogue with their respective doctors and nurses, the answer is before us. That’s the ultimate gift—and it’s one that should be given year round.

Jennifer Dunphy, BSN, OCN, CBCN, is a clinical subject matter expert for Get Real Health. Learn more at getrealhealth.com.

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