Healthdirect Australia and George Health Technologies have launched an online test called Risk Checker that can help people predict their chances of developing preventable diseases like heart disease, kidney disease and diabetes.

The test and results follow an algorithm developed by George Health Technologies and uses current Australian guidelines for each health area, and no contact details or identifiable data is collected during the test.

Those taking the test answer a range of questions such as body measurements, dietary and lifestyle habits, as well as any medical history one has on hand.

Following completion of the form, users will receive a low, medium or high risk score for all three diseases, along with a percentage indicator of the probability that they will develop heart disease, kidney disease or diabetes over the next five years.

“People are increasing turning online to find answers to their health concerns,” Karen Borg, CEO of Healthdirect Australia, told Healthcare IT News. “A lot of the health information to be found online isn’t safe or trustworthy and can be alarming. It’s important that people can access research-based advice, information and tools when they have concerns about their health.”

She said Risk Checker is different compared with some apps, which ask people to input their health information but have a commercial interest behind them and direct users down a specific avenue “driven by commercial outcomes.”

Borg explained that the design of the app was made with an eye toward simplicity and user friendliness because it is important to maintain the user’s engagement throughout their use of the tool so they get to the end and receive the health information they need.

“They don’t get the value unless they complete it, and we need to help them get there,” she noted. “One of our other self-guided online tools, Healthdirect Symptom Checker, has shown the importance of the user experience. To get value from the tool, users need to put in personal information to receive results and next steps for better health.”

Borg said it’s comparable to an e-commerce process where companies aim to get customers seamlessly through the shopping experience all the way to checkout.

She pointed out Symptom Checker has a 45% completion rate, compared with the completion/conversion rate for e-commerce which she said is closer to 3%.

“The experience when using an online tool also has an impact on whether they are likely to use it again or recommend it,” she said. “The look, feel and ease of use can even affect how much they trust the results.”

“As the health system evolves into a digital era, we need to deliver health services in the way people expect and trust – user experience is one element of this, privacy of information and evidence-base are other areas where trust is important,” Borg said. “Risk Checker is an example of our move into preventive health, focusing on areas where people can be supported to change their behaviour for better health.”

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