How your smartphone can help you manage your family’s health
Many Australians are trying to keep on top of not only their own health, but also their whole family’s. Here’s how digital technology can help lighten the load of family health management.
Health checks, specialist appointments, vaccinations and daily step counts – when it comes to keeping on top of your health and wellbeing, there’s a lot to keep track of. And many of us aren’t just looking after ourselves, we’re also taking care of our family’s health – whether that be our kids, parents, or both.
This is especially true for the ‘Sandwich Generation’ – the roughly 5% of Australians whose carer responsibilities include looking after their kids and parents at the same time. Research shows that trying to do it all can take its toll on these carers, possibly affecting their physical and mental health as well as their overall wellbeing and life satisfaction. And the number of Aussies in this group is only expected to grow.
The good news is, digital technology is evolving, not only to make our everyday lives easier, it can also take away some of the challenges and frustrations of whole family health management. Staying on top of your and your family’s health could be made simpler, just by downloading an app to your smartphone.
That’s why we’ve partnered with Snug, a family health tracker app that makes it easy for you to manage your health, and the health of your loved ones (with consent) by securely storing your family’s medical history and data in one place*.
When having access to family health information counts
Are your kids’ vaccinations up to date? What are the prescribed medications your loved ones take? When was your parent’s last visit to the GP and what were the results?
In emergency situations, having quick and easy access to this kind of family health data can be crucial. But, ironically, the stress of emergencies can make important information like dates and medical data more difficult to remember.
On New Year’s Day 2019, HCF Head of Health and Wellbeing Linda Opie had a family medical emergency where she says having access to health data would have saved time and worry in an already stressful hospital situation.
“It was New Year’s Day and I had only been living in Australia for two years,” says Linda. “We went to the sea and my two little boys were fishing off the rocks while I was resting under a tree. The next moment my oldest boy said, ‘Mummy, I’ve hurt myself really badly’. I looked down and his entire calf was cut open from the top to bottom. One of the shells on the rocks had obviously seriously injured him.
“So there we are, I’m picking up my child, and rushing him to the closest hospital. It was my first experience in an Australian public hospital. When I started filling in paperwork they asked me, ‘When did he last have a tetanus shot?’. Because my information was not uploaded, I had no access to that. My husband had to leave me while I was sitting in this full waiting room trying to stop the blood, my husband rushing home, which was another 30 minutes, to go and fetch this documentation of his vaccinations and when last he had it, just to come back and realise that it was more than two years and he needed that one anyway.”
“I really find it very useful to support my very busy lifestyle as a working mother and trying to look after my own wellbeing while I’m responsible for others.”
This is where family health tracker apps like Snug come in. One of the key features of the app is the Circle of Care function, which allows you to share and receive health information with family members, as well as with health professionals. It also allows you to store this information so you can access it easily, whenever you need to.
The many benefits of family health apps
The Snug app has many features to help make life a little easier for busy parents and family carers – or even just for individuals struggling to stay on top of their own medical history and records – including:
- the Circle of Care function to help manage your family’s health, like immunisations, doctor appointments and medications
- tracking your child's vaccinations, growth development and milestones
- staying on top of your parent’s appointments and medical needs
- integration with personal health devices, so you can monitor your fitness progress or keep track of sleeping patterns
- an easy and fast view of your medical history and summary, your physical health activity or Health Notes
- the ability to upload and preserve medical histories to monitor your health over time
- SMS alerts to yourself and your Snug emergency contacts for abnormal readings, such as blood sugar^
- a questionnaire to help identify health issues and find the right support for you+
- a virtual coach chatbot that can suggest HCF wellbeing resources based on your needs. Participation in Health and Wellbeing programs is subject to eligibility criteria.
When she thinks about her family emergency on New Year’s Day two years ago, Linda says, “That was the perfect example for me where, if I had Snug, I would have been opening my phone and in a heartbeat it would’ve supported me in that terribly stressful situation; to know that I had everything that I needed in the palm of my hand. It would have been one less thing to worry about so I could just focus on my child.
“But without that information it just delayed the process, it was more stressful for my husband and I than it needed to be.”
The app works for families wanting to track kids’ growth, height, weight and vaccines, or an elderly parent’s meds or appointments. But it can also directly upload from wearable health tech like a runner’s activity tracker or a diabetic’s glucose monitor^.
Fast and secure access to your family’s health data
It’s understandable to be wary of where and how your information is stored in a digital age – and particularly your medical and health records, which can include sensitive information. Caring for your own health and that of your loved ones is a balance between privacy and making sure the right health professionals have access to your family’s health information at the right time.
“For me to be able to be part of a platform where I can look after the wellbeing of my family and myself, from early on in the journey just around self-care and awareness, all the way to being able to capture my family’s important health information, makes it seamless,” says Linda.
“As a working mum, to be able to book appointments, to be able to have access to additional support at no cost, then also the resources that are available. I really find it very useful to support my very busy lifestyle as a working mother and trying to look after my own wellbeing while I’m responsible for others. I can’t have 70 apps, I just need one. So that’s why I’m proud to be a part of it.
“And the rigour around the platform – for me the comfort that it’s secure is important.”
HCF members can access a customised Snug app at no cost until 31 December 2022*.
CARER SUPPORT FOR THE ‘SANDWICH GENERATION’
When taking care of elderly parents and children, remember to add yourself to the list.
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*All HCF members above the age of 14, who hold any HCF health insurance product (excluding Overseas Visitors Health Cover) are eligible for access to a customised Snug app at no cost until 31 December 2022. HCF may choose to continue to pay the cost after 31 December 2022, but if not your account will revert to the standard offer and charges will apply. Members can downgrade to the Snug Lite version at no charge. See hcf.com.au/snughealth
^This is a notification service and is not a diagnostic service. It does not replace a consultation with a health professional.
+This is not intended for medical emergency situations. This is not a diagnostic service and does not replace a consultation with a health professional.
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