By Robert Tennant
Knowledge is power, and thanks to the proliferation of smart phones and wearable tech individuals can now gather, record and access their own health data in increasingly powerful ways.
Yet with so many different health apps to choose from, consumers can be easily overwhelmed.
That’s why the College of Health, the Spencer S. Eccles Health Sciences Library and the Center for Medical Innovation have come together to create U-Bar, a new health app education center located in the Hope Fox Eccles Library adjacent to the University Hospital lobby.
“These apps and devices are designed to help consumers learn about their health and make good choices to improve their health and wellness,” said Chief Wellness Officer Robin Marcus. “We’ve looked at what’s available and narrowed it down to a manageable list of 17 free apps.”
U-Bar, which opened Feb. 8, allows University Hospital patients to test drive the selected list of apps while a staff of students recruited from the College of Health stand by to answer questions and coach patients on installing and using the apps on their devices.
“These undergraduate and graduate students from the College of Health are very knowledgeable about the apps on display at U-Bar,” said Director of PEAK Health and Fitness Traci Thompson, who is in charge of training and coordinating the U-Bar staff. “They have all downloaded and used each of the apps themselves, so they will be able to educate patients on how they work.”
The apps included in the opening of U- Bar will focus mostly on weight loss and fitness tracking, factors known to contribute positively to overall wellness. U-Bar will also include more specialized apps such as a glucose monitoring app for patients with diabetes and a prenatal health tracking app.
In the months and years to come, the data provided by consumer devices and software may play a large role in our health care.
“This is all very exciting technology, and we will likely see it integrated more directly into the prevention and treatment of disease as it is adopted by the public,” said Spencer S. Eccles Health Library Director Jean Shipman. “The University of Utah is proud to be on the leading edge of health information technology, and we’re eager to see how these apps can best be used to improve the health of UUHC patients.”
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For more expert health news and information, visit healthcare.utah.edu/healthfeed.