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Sarah Satter MD

  • Graduate 2018
Scholarly Research Project

Using Fitness Apps to Increase Physical Activity in Patients with Diabetes

Sarah Satter, MD; Alan Finkelstein, MD


Obesity is a major health problem in the United States. Nearly 160 million people are overweight or obese, and the incidence is increasing. Studies have shown that exercise, even without weight loss, is beneficial in reducing morbidity and mortality from obesity. This quality improvement project consisted of creating a dot phrase instructing patients on how to use fitness apps on their phones. Patients were to set goals for themselves, monitor their physical activity and increase their physical activity weekly. 


The aim of this project was to monitor how many times the dot phrase was used. All patients of the Shadyside Family Health Center (SFHC) were eligible to have the fitness app template inserted into their after-visit summary. The dot phrase became available to providers in November of 2017. Methods used to encourage use of this dot phrase were a mass email to providers at the clinic, verbal reminders at pre-clinic huddle and reminder stickers at the attending physician workstations.


A data report was run to check how many providers had used the template. As of May 2018, it has been used 54 times. 


Doctors need a simple but effective strategy to promote exercise in patients, especially those at increased risk of poor outcomes such as diabetics. To better understand whether this intervention could be helpful, achieving broader participation from the provider group and seeking follow-up data on outcomes of the intervention, along with perceptions of usefulness by providers and patients would be necessary.