Every summer I get a bit nostalgic. I think back to when our kids were young, and we would pack the family car, a four-door sedan the size of a living room. It felt like driving a couch. The kids would pile in the back seat, and my husband and I sat in the front, loaded up with coolers of food and a thermos full of water.
Don't forget the maps! Large unruly maps that would never fold back up again. We would spend days highlighting the route on the map and visiting AAA to get books on our glorious travel destination.
The saying "enjoy the journey" must have been coined by someone who never traveled any distance in a car with kids and maps that were old and outdated. One wrong turn – or even worse, the dreaded bright orange detour sign – and you could feel the tension rising in the car. I would frantically spin the map around 360 degrees clockwise, then counter clockwise, folding and unfolding it in a variety of ways, snapping the creases with my fingers, hoping somehow this ritual would help me find out where the heck we were and how I was going to get us back on track.
Today, the word “recalculating” is joy to my ears! Whatever the map app voice on my phone says, we follow. No more maps, no more visits to AAA. It is glorious! Bring us home, map app woman. We are a tuned-in audience.
This leads me to a thought on apps in general. The market is flooded with health-related applications, from iPhone pedometers to the wrist band Fit Bit. Health applications that are geared toward the non-clinician intend to help the consumer self manage a variety of diagnoses, such as diabetes or asthma, and even help decide if a skin lesion is potentially melanoma.
I love the voice on my phone – she gives me directions to map my travels – but when directions involving my health come from my phone, that’s a different consideration. When making important health care decisions, it is important that my health care provider knows me, my health care goals and my resources to achieve those goals. The health application on my phone does not know me or take those things into consideration.
I support apps used for motivation, tracking exercise and weight management goals and improving population awareness of fitness and movement. However, I am concerned that at the expense of convenience, technology and gadgetry, we lose what health care in general and the rehab profession specifically is striving for: quality, collaboration, value and innovation.
Although I do feel that my map app voice and I have a deep relationship, the minute she starts telling me to eat my vegetables or go to the doctor, that’s when AAA books and paper maps make their return.
Enjoy the journey!