NSW phone health advice will go mobile

By Paul Hemsley

Individuals with chronic illnesses calling the NSW Department of Health’s telephone coaching service will be able to access the program online and via mobile applications.

Executive in charge of the project, Dr Bev Lloyd and project manager, Dr Debbie Banovic each gave a talk at the Health and Productivity Management Congress 2012 in Sydney regarding the Get Healthy Information and Coaching Service, which aims to deliver services to individuals who call in.

Targeted demographics are those with certain ‘chronic disease risk characteristics’. These risks concern body mass index, waist circumference, vegetable consumption and fruit consumption.

The goal of the program has been to increase physical activity, improve nutrition and reduce weight through the telephone coaching.

Since its launch in February 2009, the Department has reported that ‘expert telephonic’ services have been effective in making these changes to those whom the program has coached.

This has included 1719 that are currently enrolled, with 2242 already graduated.

Dr Lloyd said the Department is working with a group of researchers trailing a post-coaching service reminder, which will be an SMS based alert.

“The website is in a state of redevelopment, so there would be the opportunity to do this as a web-based program as well as a phone program,” Dr Lloyd said.

According to Dr Lloyd, using both phone and web-based programs could make “quite a difference” for some populations.

“It will be interesting to see how the maintenance program goes because that’s an important issue in the sustainability of people’s changes in healthy eating and physical activity behaviour,” Dr Lloyd said.

Dr Banovic said the company that buys the Department’s media at the moment is conducting research for the social media applications.

“Hopefully it will time well with our new website to have an interactive website and also to have those social media opportunities,” Dr Banovic said.

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