Health takes a step forward in the Scottish Highlands!
ITTS demonstrator project promotes tracking and monitoring physical activity of Highland patients
Last week, staff at the Culloden Medical Practice, Inverness took innovative steps when they launched a new service aimed at increasing the physical activity levels of referred patients.
Research has shown that walking can significantly improve health. It is also an activity that can be taken up by anybody, is free to do and can easily be incorporated into a patient’s lifestyle. Smartphones can be used to help measure the amount of steps taken in a day - this technology is delivered to the patient via a smartphone application (app) which can be used to set daily goals and monitor progress. Patients who own smartphones generally tend to carry these with them all the time and so no additional equipment is required.
Using smartphones to monitor physical activity has been run as a pilot project in Ireland and has been demonstrated to have a positive effect on the number of steps patients take in a day compared to those in a control group. The pilot revealed staggering results: over the course of the pilot, the average daily step count in the control group had decreased by 156 steps per day with the step count in the intervention group increasing by 2,359 steps per day!
GPs at the Culloden Medical Practice will now identify patients who would benefit from using a smartphone to monitor their physical activity and recommend an 8-week walking programme, designed to meet individual requirements/tailored to each individual's needs. Patients will be asked to download a selected smartphone app* which uses intelligent 3D motion recognition technology to track daily walking. Weekly step counts will be sent to the practice nurses who will monitor the data and set new targets, gradually increasing patients' activity levels.
"The use of smartphones is a new but rapidly developing tool for use in health applications. ITTS is delighted to be working with Culloden Medical Practice in the implementation of this new service and to learn directly from patients and their practice nurses about their experiences of using this technology."
Project Development Worker, Gillian Galloway
Patients and the practice nurses will be asked to participate in the evaluation of this new service. Their views can help inform our health providers about the future use of technology in monitoring physical activity; whether it is acceptable to patients and health professionals, delivers patient benefits and that it is cost effective.
ITTS hope to further the success of this project with Partners in Ireland, Northern Ireland, Norway, Sweden and Finland all working towards implementation.
Watch this space for further news!
* The smartphone app recommended for this project is called Accupedo Pro. Other apps are available but this one has been selected for its ease of use, reliability and the minimal impact on the battery life of the phone.