Health Partners unveils online tool to help address SA health woes
Health Partners – South Australia’s only locally-based open health fund – today unveils an online initiative with the capability to play a significant role in addressing South Australia’s worsening health woes.
Health Partners’ itsmygoal.com.au website is a free online health tool to help people set and achieve health goals by leveraging cutting edge technology and the power of social media.
Health Partners CEO Byron Gregory said that participants who want to achieve health goals such as to lose weight, start an exercise program or quit smoking can use the tool to help them achieve these goals, with the support and involvement of family and friends. The site also offers access to the latest health-improvement advice from key partners Flinders University’s Department of Nutrition and Dietetics and Quit SA.
Health Partners developed itsmygoal.com.au in response to statistics which reveal that nearly four million Australians are obese, with a total cost to the economy of $8.3bn in 2008 (The Lancet, August 27, 2011). Other studies show that seven out of ten middle-aged men, and six out of ten middle-aged women are overweight or obese. Overall, around 1.5 million middle-aged Australians are currently obese and therefore at high risk of a cardio-vascular event in the longer-term. These statistics are expected to result in an extra 700,000 cardiovascular related admissions in the next 20 years (Australia’s Future Fat Bomb 2008).
“It is extremely serious and we all share a responsibility to do something about it,” Mr Gregory said.
“As a health fund that commits to the well-being of its members and our community, Health Partners has developed an initiative with the potential to make a significant difference in the lives of South Australians."
In the development of itsmygoal.com.au, Health Partners commissioned various forms of research including qualitative online studies and focus groups.
“Our goal was to find out why, despite a plethora of well-funded public health campaigns, Australians have never been unhealthier,” Mr Gregory said.
The research commissioned by Health Partners reveals that most people want to be healthy and will take up health-improving initiatives on a regular basis but usually fall short of a satisfactory outcome as a result of a lack of motivation.
Linked to this is the fact that the vast majority of those who succeed in achieving their health goals, list ‘the support of family and friends’ and ‘setting a proper goal’ as the main drivers of success.
Project leader and Health Partners General Manager Dental and Operations Ian Byrne said these findings helped to mould itsmygoal.com.au.
“The social media dynamics are what differentiates itsmygoal.com.au from other online tools and empower it with the potential for instant and consistent mass participation,” Mr Byrne said.
“Users can expect advanced features similar to those found on leading social media platforms as well as full integration into these platforms.”
The itsmygoal.com.au site enables family groups, friends or colleagues to set health goals and achieve them together. The site features a suite of innovative apps for participants to download – including Running, Walking, Losing Weight and Stop Smoking.
These apps allow for multiple participants to compete or monitor each other’s progress and lend support. The site is also unique in its versatility and flexibility, with users able to set unique, unconventional health goals.
“Users can set their own goals based on their unique requirements that might range, for example, from ‘Eat more fruit and vegetables’ to ‘Exercise more’,” Mr Byrne said.
“Society dictates that, to be healthy, one must sport a ‘six-pack’ stomach, but we are moving away from this kind of thinking. If sedentary people start walking a few kilometres every week, for example, it will start making a real difference to their lives and the overall health of our state."
Health Partners says the development of itsmygoal.com.au is a natural progression for the not-for-profit health insurer, which returns 90c in the dollar to its members in the form of benefits.
Mr Gregory explains: “itsmygoal.com.au represents an investment in the health of our members and in our communities. It is this philosophy that differentiates us from many other health insurers."
Itsmygoal.com.au is aimed at the large portion of the population whose health will benefit from adjustments to their lifestyles and habits. Those with extreme conditions should seek the guidance of their medical practitioner before embarking on any lifestyle-changing activity.
Release date: 16 January 2012