Two sisters have created a new app to help busy parents simply and safely manage their family's health.
Family HQ - founded by Tamworth's Liz Crowe and Goondiwindi's Dr Sarah Gleeson - is an all-in-one solution to seamlessly manage medication doses and times. The app records and manages information about your child's medication and health management plans.
As mums to five boys under the age of seven between them, Sarah and Liz understand just how tricky it can be to manage medications when family members are unwell.
While Sarah is a GP Obstetrician and Rural Emergency Doctor and Liz an Emergency and Critical Care Nurse, when their boys were unwell and needed medications, they too found themselves struggling to keep track of who had what and when.
As healthcare professionals, both Sarah and Liz have seen first-hand how many parents accidentally overdosed their children when administering paracetamol and ibuprofen. "Many parents simply can't remember exactly when they gave the last dose. Or if the other parent or a carer had also given pain relief," Sarah said.
In Australia in 2015, Poisons Information Centres received over 13,000 calls about paracetamol. Medication errors made up over 40 per cent of the calls about babies under one month of age and unintentional overdose or exposure to any medicine was the reason for the call to Poisons for 45 per cent of babies and 90 per cent of toddlers.
The app is a few weeks away from the live testing phase which will run for approximately two months and the ladies are hoping more testers will come on board to provide them with honest and valuable feedback. You can register to take part via the website (www.familyhq.com.au) or their social media pages.
An official launch through the app stores will happen around July.
Sarah said the basic version of the app would be available for free and will allow 2 parents or carers to add and view medication information. They strongly felt that all Australian families needed access to this simple and safe app to reduce paracetamol overdose. They have worked closely with the Poisons Information service in NSW to get it right. Children's weights will needed to be added to help with the formulas for tracking safe doses and will pop up with warnings if needed. There will also be a button which will allow the user to call the Poisons hotline directly if safe medication limits are exceeded.
But the ladies have bigger plans too. The premium service which costs $3.50 per month, will offer much more. Parents will be able to track fevers, create treatment action plans, upload existing action plans, and add regular medications with reminders. It will be great for asthmatic patients, people who suffer from epilepsy, diabetes and other chronic illnesses.
There will also be an innovative 'Family HQ Medicine Cabinet' where you can log what you have at home, what's been used and if you need to top-up. Sarah said 'our market research showed that this was amongst the top challenges that parents face when their children are unwell' and explained that 'this would be especially useful for those of us in rural areas where we do not have access to 24-hour chemists'.
"There is a long list of features we would like to add in the future" Sarah said. "We'd like for people to be able to create personal health diaries, and eventually we'd like to build the functionality so that parents can take photos of rashes, lumps and bumps and have a place to easily find these images and show their GPs and other health providers. It would also be a way to send and share information directly from the patient to other specialists," she said.
They would also like to include time limited access for when children visit grandparents or other carers so everyone can stay on top of treatments and medications.
In regards to their vision for Family HQ and their social media presence, "We're trying to strike the right balance by being educational but also relatable" Sarah said. "We understand the 'struggle of the juggle'," she laughed.
While this version is aimed at children under 14 it could be used for the whole family, and for carers down the track. "It's a scalable product that can be used by lots of different people," Sarah said. "We are keen to talk to the NDIS and other health providers as we know that many families who have children with a disability and chronic health conditions could use a product like this. We hope eventually it will be used internationally. From our research, there is no other product like this on the market."
"When Liz told me about the idea in 2019 it was a bit of a joke. It was meant to be my 'year of saying no' but it was a really good idea and I couldn't say no! We've been working on it for about 14 months now," Sarah said. "It's been a big journey and a very steep learning curve. There's been app development, marketing research, business plans, grant applications... all of which are not areas of our expertise.
Family HQ received a major boost after receiving a Jobs NSW Minimum Viable Product (MVP) grant. Liz also participates in the University of New England's SMART Region Incubator - joining regional start-ups with mentors and partners to help grow their potential together. And they are now involved in a leverage program. "For two people with very limited business experience this has been invaluable for us, the contacts we have made and the guidance we have received has been amazing," Sarah said.
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