Healthy apps a win for all

Joanne Curry

Dr Joanne Curry and The Hon Jillian Skinner MP, Minister for Health and Minister for Medical Research


Smart phone apps to help people improve their health and wellbeing, developed by a team including a University of Western Sydney researcher, have been recognised by the NSW Government.

Dr Joanne Curry, a senior member of the Health Informatics research team in the UWS School of Computing, Engineering and Mathematics and colleagues entered their work in the 'apps4nsw' competition.

apps4nsw is a competition for web developers to create new lightweight software applications using NSW Government data.

With her team colleagues, Dr Curry entered a number of apps in different health challenges in the competition.

The apps won two challenges, were runners up in two and received a highly commended in a third.

One of their winning apps, The Grey Book, encourages an ageing population to take ownership of their own health by providing a simple and friendly medium for those over the age of 50 to keep track of their personal health. This includes not only medical data such as medications and personal test results (ie: blood glucose or blood pressure readings) but also other factors such as emotions and feelings, exercise, social outings, nutritional intake and general wellness.

Data can also be "pushed" to the "book" by the Personally Controlled Electronic Health Record (PCEHR) and Government and Professional bodies, regarding latest medical advances and research that relates to the "book owner", such as new blood pressure medications.

The app also provides a valuable resource for doctors if the person needs medical help, as the clinician can view the information in the Grey Book, potentially leading to faster diagnosis and reduced medication errors due to ready access to pertinent health history.

The Grey Book provides a one-stop-shop for recording, viewing and educating patients on, medical and wellness information as they grow older and will provide a valuable resource for clinicians, carers and family members. Such information will potentially help older people to avoid critical health incidents and related unnecessary hospital admissions.

The Grey Book also received the People's Choice Award.

Dr Curry's team's other winning app, Breathe Right provides people with timely information about air quality, pollen, and temperature changes to assist with travel and daily living planning as well as general personal environment management. The information is particularly useful for people with respiratory illnesses, allergies, or those who are susceptible to changes in the environment.

The winners in each Challenge category receive a $5,000 incentive grant from the NSW Department of Finance & Services.

The winner and runner up in each Challenge category will receive mentoring and development assistance with their app from NSW Health, NSW Trade and Investmentand NICTA.

Dr Joanne Curry is a senior member of the Health Informatics research team at the University of Western Sydney. Her PhD produced the first world's first healthcare specific patient journey modelling methodology and she is currently working with the Tamworth Regional Cancer Centre. Past projects include improving services for remote indigenous maternity care, mental health, chronic kidney disease and osteoarthritis.

21 December 2012