Fitbit as clinical assessment tool: Mayo Clinic

Not unexpected, but sooner than one would think given the relative newness of fitness trackers. A Mayo Clinic study published in the September issue of the Journal of Thoracic Surgery (abstract) monitored a group of elderly patients who had elective major surgery, were older than 50 (that’s elderly?) and were expected to be in the hospital from 5 – 7 days. The Fitbit was worn on a disposable ankle strap given their limited mobility. Data went first to the Fitbit website then over to a dashboard for clinical use. Patients were also tracked when they went home, home with home health assistance or to skilled nursing/rehab. Day 2 seemed to be a critical breaking point –discharged patients able to transition home were taking an average of 675 steps versus the other two groups who were taking only an average of 108 steps. The continuous gathering of data was found to be of tremendous potential in evaluation and far superior to intermittent notes. The study’s conclusion was that “Wireless monitoring of mobility after major surgery creates an opportunity for early identification and intervention in individual patients and could serve as a tool to evaluate and improve the process of care and to affect postdischarge outcomes.” MedCityNews

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  1. Good application of a reasonably standard technology. It doesn’t always have to be cutting edge! Does anyone know if a similar trial is planned in Europe?
    My company would be interested in getting involved.

  2. As a regular user of Fitbit since January 2013 I am very impressed by the product and find it easy to use. I was talking to a researcher at my university yesterday and he was interested in using it to aid his research into the activity levels of older people. currently he is using a system where participants have to record what they have done and it does not always get done but with a fitbit there is nothing for the user to do – apart from gloat in their activity levels!