We live in a digital world. From social services to personal finance, no industry can survive without providing a way for consumers to perform tasks online.
The health sector is at the forefront of this digital revolution. The boom in technology has given rise to a new area in healthcare, appropriately called “digital health.” Digital health refers to the use of computers and other technology to make healthcare more effective, accessible, and personalized. An example of digital health you have probably seen before is the wearable watch that tracks your vitals such as blood pressure, heart rate, among others.
While new technology has helped to improve people’s health, some of it — such as mobile devices — has caused health concerns, one of the most prevalent being increased eye strain. This has made it necessary for people to adopt guidelines for healthy use of technology. This is what is referred to as digital wellness.
Let’s dive deeper into digital health and wellness to examine the importance of each, as well as some examples.
What is Digital Health and Wellness?
Media health definition/Digital health definition: Digital health or media health can be defined as the use of ICT (information and communications technologies) in medicine and other healthcare disciplines to manage diseases, health risks and to promote wellness.
In the past, healthcare management was mainly performed using manual methods. Health records were written by hand and stored as giant stacks of files that were hard to peruse. Consumers had to buy expensive equipment if they wanted to keep track of their vitals. It was also hard for people in remote areas to get access to care and even simple advice from healthcare professionals.
Now, with the advent of digital health and welfare, all you need to do is pick up your phone, call your doctor, and have a consultation via video chat. If your medical history is needed, a simple search in the digital patient database reveals all.
Now that we’ve answered the question “what is digital health?” let’s ask another one: “what is digital wellness?”
Despite having a similar name to digital health, digital wellness is the pursuit of a healthy relationship with technology. It involves being mindful about how we use technology and what we use it for.
Excessive use of technology such as mobile phones can lead to various conditions such as eye strain, back pain, neck pain, and more. Many times, these conditions are not chronic and can be fixed by adopting a healthy balance in your use of technology. Ways to achieve balance include:
- Limiting screen time outside of work and school to 2 or 3 hours a day.
- Set schedules to avoid compulsively using social media or checking emails.
- Sleep well to ensure you’re well rested and don’t have to strain when using devices.
Why is Digital Wellness Important?
Overuse of digital devices can cause one to become tired and lethargic. Going into work or school while tired can have a negative effect on how productive you are. Even if you manage to maintain a high level of production, the quality of your work may suffer.
Research shows that taking breaks or sabbaticals from technology use helps to reduce work related stress. Lower stress levels mean you can perform your tasks better.
Another facet of digital wellness that boosts productivity is the use of apps or software that promote healthy use of technology. For example, time tracking apps like Harvest can help you to avoid distractions and to track your most fruitful hours. For people who work better with music, there are apps like Spotify that play soft noise or lo-fi music that soothe but don’t distract.
Better work-life balance
It’s never been easier to get sucked into the internet abyss. At a given time, you can have one device in your hand, another on the desk, and yet another mounted on the wall. Moreover, within all these devices there is a plethora of apps and websites to explore. It’s no wonder that the average internet user now spends almost 7 hours online each day.
Digital wellness requires that you become conscious of the amount of time you are spending on technology and reduce it to a healthy level. Once you identify how much time you are actually enjoying yourself or being productive, you’ll get to know how much time is wasted unconsciously browsing. You can then replace the mindless scrolling with healthy activities such as nature walks, talking with friends and family, or engaging in one of your hobbies.
Avoid negative health effects
Excessive use of digital devices can have negative effects on your physical health. This is because device use typically requires us to stay in one position for long periods, staring at a screen, which is something that the human body isn’t made to do.
Eye strain (also known as computer vision syndrome) is one of the effects of too much device usage. Symptoms of eye strain include dry eyes, water eyes, headaches, and more.
Another common condition that is a result of too much device use is repetitive strain injury of the fingers. It is caused by spending many hours typing on keyboards or mobile phones. Digital wellness measures like taking breaks and limiting screen time can help to prevent or alleviate such conditions.
Many times the technology we use is audio-visual. Apart from the artificial light straining our eyes, loud audio can harm our ears. Part of digital wellness is knowing the limits of our body and adjusting our technology use to match them. Adjusting settings such as volume and screen brightness allows for a comfortable experience.
Digital Health and Wellness Examples
Examples of digital health and wellness are all around us. Let’s take a look at some of the most common ones.
Digital Health Examples
So, what is digital health out in the real world? Areas where digital health is applied include:
Telemedicine is the use of technology (e.g mobile phones, video) to connect physically distant medical professionals and patients for the purpose of facilitating treatment.
Telemedicine is important because it allows people in remote areas to access healthcare, likely at a lower cost. It makes accessing care easier for those who suffer from mobility issues or prefer to speak to a healthcare provider from the comfort of their home.
2. Personalized Medicine
Personalized medicine involves the use of a patient's data to create tailor-made treatment plans. The goal of personalizing treatment is to improve patient outcomes and reduce risk of adverse effects.
Traditional personalized medicine involved looking at family history, allergies, and other factors. However, advanced technology now makes it possible to look into an individual’s unique gene pattern and recommend treatment based on it.
3. Mobile Health (M-Health)
Mobile health can be defined as the use of mobile technology to support healthcare activities. Use of M-Health is especially valuable in underserved areas where mobile phone use is widespread.
Uses of mobile health include:
- Disease surveillance - Centers for disease control can receive information from locals about new developments on the ground.
- Treatment support - Support for people undergoing treatment for various conditions.
- Chronic disease management - Using mobile phones, people suffering chronic conditions can interact with their doctors and access valuable information.
- Basic self diagnosis - An example of this is the apps that use AI to identify skin conditions, like rashes and eczema.
4. Health Information Technology
IT systems in healthcare are used to record, store, update and share relevant data such as patient records and doctor’s information. When compared to the legacy method of physical records storage, the digital system is much faster and more space efficient.
5. Wearable devices
Wearable devices are health and wellness technology that people wear on their bodies to track vitals such as temperature, elevation, breathing rate, etc. Initial trials show that these devices can be instrumental in increasing physical activity and helping people lose weight.
Digital Wellness Examples
What is digital wellness in practice? Examples of digital wellness include:
1. Scheduled and limited technology use
We already know that compulsive and unnecessarily long use of technology is harmful. Putting the phone down and getting out into nature not only helps you recharge, but also helps you avoid many diseases related to inactivity. Limiting the use of technology helps you to live a balanced life and to be more productive during work.
2. Monitoring and controlling the time you spend scrolling
It is important to be aware of how long you spend scrolling through content on the internet. Whether you’re browsing social media or working late hours, it’s important that you track how long you’re spending looking at that screen. Set a timer for scrolling and stick to actually putting the phone down once it goes off.
3. Responsible use of technology
As we discussed earlier, the digital world can be used for both bad and good. Digital wellness requires that bad use of technology be reported and good use of technology promoted. Examples of good and bad use of technology, respectively, are learning a new skill via YouTube versus posting hateful language on social media.
4. Using helpful gear
Since it is inevitable that you will use digital devices, it is wise to invest in products that will make your use more comfortable. Blue light computer glasses and gaming glasses, for example, can help to protect your eyes by reducing glare from the screen. Other helpful gear include ergonomic chairs and EMF devices.
5. General healthy lifestyle
Your body is your vehicle in the world. Good habits, like getting proper sleep and nutrition, ensures that it runs smoothly and is less prone to the effects of technology use like eye fatigue and back pains.
Boost Your Digital Health with BON CHARGE
Now that you know what digital health and wellness are, it’s time to put your new knowledge into practice. Start by managing the time you spend on technology, taking care of your body, and getting protective gear like computer glasses and blue light blocking sleep glasses.