Health Agenda

Research & Insights

How your smartphone can help your health

The evolution of digital healthcare is allowing Australians to gain greater control of their health.

Now more than ever, the healthcare industry is guiding and empowering us to manage our health with a range of clever apps and digital services.

Georgia Miller has started using Snug, an app that makes it easy for you to manage your health, and the health of your family, by recording your medical history and data in one place.

“We’ve got three little boys, all with different needs, so having all health information in one central location that my husband can also access is amazing,” she says.

We’ve partnered with Snug to help you manage the health and wellbeing of the whole family, simply and seamlessly with a free customised Snug subscription trial*.

Sharing and accessing information from your phone or tablet is one of the many convenient features of Snug. The Circle of Care feature within the app allows you to share and receive information with family members, as well as with health professionals.

You can also upload data from fitness apps, medical device information, plus appointments, vaccinations and medications. And HCF members can access a customised virtual chat which connects them to relevant health services they may not have considered.

“Our health system has always been based on a model of sickness, where you only see a GP when you feel ill,” says Michael Bennett, CEO of Snug Health.

“We want people to transition to a new model of wellness, where our app helps them to see the benefits of maintaining good health, as well as record and monitor both their and their family’s health. People can also manage episodic care or chronic illness, as we can go between those at any stage of our life.”

The app works for families wanting to track kids’ growth, height, weight and vaccines, or an elderly parent’s meds or appointments. It can also directly upload from wearable health tech like a runner’s activity tracker or a diabetic’s glucose monitor.

“You can do something as basic as compiling the data from your different fitness devices over time or as advanced as tracking your medical device data and sending your GP a report summarising how your blood pressure or glucose levels have been since your last appointment,” Michael says.

Right now, Snug gives your doctor access to your health history.

In the future, your doctor might ask if they can access the latest data from your devices before you come in for your check-up, or a chatbot might say, ‘Your blood pressure has been going up, do you have a family history of hypertension?’ and suggest seeing a GP. Your adult children can also be notified if your blood pressure goes up, rounding out the Circle of Care.

The future of digital health

Digital healthcare is set to keep empowering people to monitor their health and will get even better over time.

Electronic prescriptions via phone or email

It’s not just health data that can live on your smartphone. Electronic prescriptions are being rolled out nationally after the program was launched in Melbourne in August 2020.

Scripts and repeats are sent via SMS or email, reducing the risk of interpretation errors or lost scripts. People who don’t want to manage their own repeats can give their pharmacist permission to do so through the secure Active Script List service.

If you can’t get to the pharmacy, you can forward scripts electronically for home delivery, or to a person you trust to pick them up for you. Some regular scripts can be sent directly to you without a GP visit.

Telehealth: digital consultations

Thanks to the wonders and advances of telehealth, your smartphone, tablet or desktop can also become your doctor’s surgery. HCF telehealth partner GP2U provides GP consultations via its app or video chat at a scheduled time to patients who are in remote areas, sick in bed or just can’t take time off work or parenting.

Telehealth psychology

Since the COVID-19 pandemic, more people are using sister service PSYCH2U for mental health telehealth support. “We provide psychology and psychiatry services for short-term emergencies and ongoing support,” says general manager Sarah Richardson.

“We’ve gone from five referrals a week to over 250 since COVID-19. A lot of external GPs refer patients to us because we make sure our appointments run on time, wherever you are.”

PYCH2U is one of a suite of digital mental health services available to HCF members. You can also access THIS WAY UP, a joint initiative of St Vincent’s Hospital and the University of New South Wales, which offers interactive digital courses to help manage mental health challenges like stress, insomnia, worry, anxiety and depression.

As technology evolves and we get more comfortable managing our health digitally, providers are tweaking their services to better suit our needs. “We’re bringing in a system where we’ll send you a link in a text or email when you book and you can click that directly to go to your appointment without needing Skype or our app,” Sarah says.

“We can also organise your mental health appointments in conjunction with your local GP, so they can help explain anything complicated and be involved in your shared care.”  

“We want our members to be empowered to manage their health,” says HCF Chief Medical Officer, Dr Andrew Cottrill. “A connected ecosystem with access to relevant, reliable and personalised information can help guide you to make more informed decisions about your treatment now and into the future.”

HCF members can access a free customised Snug subscription trial which ends on 21 March 2022*.

Find out more

*All HCF members above the age of 14, who hold any HCF health insurance product (excluding Overseas Visitors Health Cover) are eligible for a customised Snug subscription trial at no cost, from 22 March 2021 until 21 March 2022. At the end of the trial, your account may revert to the standard Snug offer for all Australians, which may incur additional costs. HCF may choose to extend the offer upon written notice to its members. 

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