Nurse Practitioner Experience and Perception of the Fitbit as a Tool for Patient Health

Monday, 18 November 2013: 3:15 PM

Peggy J. Mancuso, PhD, RN, CNM
Nursing, Texas Woman's University, Dallas, TX
Mary Thompson, PT, PhD, GCS
Physical Therapy, Texas Woman's University, Dallas, TX
Gayle Roux, PhD, RN, NP-C, FAAN
Nursing, Texas Woman's University, Lewisville, TX
Nancy M. DiMarco, PhD, RD, CSSD
Department of Nutrition and Food Sciences and Institute for Women's Health, Texas Woman's University, Denton, TX

Learning Objective 1: Discuss the ease of use of the Fitbit, usability of web-page support for consumers, and the potential for the device to improve patient outcomes.

Learning Objective 2: Describe the experiences of Doctor in Nursing Practice students who are nurse practitioner with their use of the Fitbit device.

Twenty-first century advanced practice nurses help patients through unprecedented technological advances resulting from the intersection of wireless communication, increased bandwidth, and consumer access to health information. Smart phones, tablets, and other devices, plus applications, allow today’s health care consumer to monitor body temperature, track sleep patterns through brain wave analysis, or count each step taken every 24-hours.  Much of this data can be stored in personal digital health records.  Although researchers have explored aspects of the effects of devices and Internet support communities on patient health, the lived experience of the health care providers has not been addressed.  The purpose of this research project was to explore the perceptions of a group of Doctorate of Nursing Practice students on the personal use of accelerometers (Fitbit) with web-page support, diet recording, and sleep tracking as a possible intervention for future patient care.  Qualitative and quantitative methodologies were used to analyze nurse practitioner use, reactions, and perceptions of these devices. 

A convenience sample of seven Doctorate of Nursing Practice students, who are licensed nurse practitioners enrolled in a graduate informatics course, was recruited for this study.  Each participant received a commercial accelerometer (Fitbit) at the beginning of the semester.  A focus group activity was conducted with the students to determine perceptions of health promotion activities. Students were assessed throughout the semester regarding ease of use of the device, usability of web page support for health care consumers, and potential for the device to improve patient outcomes.  The students also explored current status of other health care devices in comparison to the Fitbit.  Participants became more physically active throughout the semester, supported each other's efforts, and referred the Fitbit device to others. Device loss was a major problem.  The outcomes of this study contribute to the expanding knowledge on technology use in practice.