October 13, 2021
Leveraging Technology to Transform Well-Being, One ME/mo at a Time
By Susan Howard, MS, NBC-HWC
Originally posted by the American College of Lifestyle Medicine to which obVus Solutions is a Corporate Roundtable Member.
Collaboration, unconditional kindness and curiosity are transformative in meaningful behavioral change. With a new appreciation of our health due to the global pandemic, we seize the opportunity to enhance our well-being as healthcare professionals and the relationship with our patients by one supportive “me moment” (ME/mo) at a time.
Addressing compassion fatigue and burnout are imperative as we care for others. Today, nearly half of physicians report feeling heightened anxiety, shock, isolation and even powerlessness. And while doctors are experts in health, we still find it a challenge to follow health advice as summarized by the lead researcher of a recent Harvard study, “for patients, healthy lifestyle choices and health are important, but not easy to come by … both take work, and even health professionals find it difficult.”
Technology Supports Positive Habit Formation, Engages Wellness Community
Evidence-based lifestyle therapeutic approaches of American College of Lifestyle Medicine (ACLM) integrate processes to prevent, treat and reverse disease with nutrition, sleep, exercise, stress management and social connection. Incorporating the use of wearables supports better outcomes – both for physician health as well as for the patients they care for. Moreover, research shows that building life habits is sustainable when people create changes in small increments over time. Epigenetics point to daily lifestyle habits and environmental factors that add up over time to influence outcomes. It is the small daily changes we make, or do not make, that greatly impact our health.
Digital technology is changing how we work and live. Real actionable data gleaned from wearables offers doctors, their patients and health coaches, who work with both, first-hand accountability and insight. For the health coach, wearable technology provides insight into patient’s lives beyond the patient visit. Tech closes the communication gap and builds rapport and trust between the patient and their coach. The patient experiences heightened motivation by the connection and access to their data. These micro-moments of human connectivity, between health professional and patient, are an “active” ingredient of the successful lifestyle medicine process. On the most simple level, well-tech is a catalyst to prompt an act of self-care that activates autonomy in building an individual’s self efficacy.
Unhealthy habits, such as long extended screen time are hard to change, yet ironically, technology can be an effective tool to support positive change in scheduling mindfulness breaks. Wearable devices act as a “virtual coach,” empowering users to live healthier lives to gain insight, reinforce success, alter habits and promote sustained behavior changes, leading to long-term health. Engaging technology to support curiosity of behavior gives users the autonomy to be more mindful, eat more healthfully, manage stress and addictive behavior, and incorporate movement throughout the day.
*Coach tip: Simple self-care actions that keep me in the present moment, which I call “ME/mos” - or me over the moment - nourishes my positive perspective of my well-being and changes the narrative around self-care. ME/mos highlight physical, emotional, social, intellectual/creative, spiritual, occupational, financial, and environmental well-being throughout the day. Pairing ME/mos with biofeedback, like heart rate reduction when I take a breathing ME/mo, provides instant feedback on the positive impact of that moment.