Thursday, June 21, 2012

Mobile Health and Innovation

By Kristen McManus, RD LD and Melanie Rubery, MS RD LD CLT
“There’s an app for that.” How often do we hear that catchy phrase on a weekly basis? It seems there is an app for just about everything, and it’s no question the convenience of smartphones has helped make the lives of busy Americans much easier.
Because we spend so much time on our phones, the smartphone platform is the perfect way to engage people in the field of health and wellness. Worldwide, chronic disease management has emerged as a area of particular interest and innovation. Research has shown that people who keep a food journal will reduce the amount of food they eat by about 10%, but most people do not have the time to keep a detailed, hand-written food and exercise journal. That’s where smartphone applications step in-- with the emerging technology of mobile fitness, tracking calories consumed and calories burned through exercise has never been so simple. With just the touch of a finger, people have the ability to document their entire day’s worth of calories and exercise. 
Based out of Birmingham AL, Healthy Life and Nutrition has developed a wellness program called Sensibalance. This innovative platform has taken mobile health to the professional level. In addition to providing services 100% online, each client has 24/7 access to a registered dietitian (RD) via email and web-based portal. Clients are placed on an individualized calorie level program and are given an allotted number of daily food bars for the 3 macronutrients:  carbohydrates, protein, and fat. A food bar is the equivalent of a serving size. Along with having an equal distribution of the macronutrients, clients are also able to track their water, fruit, vegetable, and fiber intake to ensure they are meeting their daily needs. Clients are able to record their food and exercise with an app compatible with the iPhone and Android.  All information syncs with their online profile. The greatest advantage of Sensibalance is clients are able to work with registered dietitians who are experts in the field of food and nutrition. They can actually learn what foods are good for them and why, instead of just trying to stay under a certain calorie limit for the day. It teaches individuals how to make healthful eating choices and facilitate an actual lifestyle change. Dietitians are also able to provide medical nutrition therapy for various nutrition-related diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, and high cholesterol.  With such tools and support, Sensibalance works as a program for individuals, corporate wellness, and physician referrals.

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