Health-assessment tool could help patients to make better choices

Doctor demonstrates small touchscreen device to patient

By asking patients to use a touchscreen to generate an on-the-spot assessment of their health-related behaviors, doctors are more likely to influence patients to improve those behaviors, says a new study co-authored by two professors in the Texas A&M Health Science Center School of Public Health.

Professors Yan Hong and Marcia Ory recently published an article online in the Journal of Medical Internet Research Mhealth and Uhealth on the use of mobile devices by primary care physicians and their patients.

They conducted a study of 109 patients who completed a short assessment using an iPod Touch while in the waiting room. A printed report was then delivered to the doctors, who could choose to review the assessment with their patients and to provide recommendations for healthier practices. Researchers also conducted follow-up surveys with the patients.

The study concluded that patients were able to complete the report on the iPod touch with ease, and noted that – when physicians engaged their patients using the report – patients were much more likely to put into practice the behavioral changes suggested by their physicians.

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