A team of researchers at Deakin University in Victoria, with the support of Medibank’s Better Health Foundation, have evaluated the range of COVID-19 related apps available in the Australian market. They looked at over 135 apps related to COVID-19 and assessed them based on key criteria, this included that all information be medically sound, that research be validated, that the app feature good functionality, adhere to ethics and be user friendly.
Of the apps evaluated by Deakin there were four apps that rated the highest on their evaluation framework:
- Health Direct
- Coronavirus Australia
- MyAus COVID-19
Let’s talk about COVIDSafe first. Released by the Australian Health Department, the COVIDSafe app is a contact tracking tool designed to slow the spread of the virus. While it’s completely voluntary to download, the more people who connect to it, the more effective it will be.
Downloading the app is straightforward, you will need to provide your name, mobile number, postcode and an age range. The system will then create a unique, encrypted reference code to identify you.
To be effective, you’ll need to have the app running and Bluetooth enabled as you go about your day.
How it works COVIDSafe recognises other devices who also have it installed and notes the date, time, distance and duration of the contact.
If someone is diagnosed with COVID-19, health officials will ask them for permission to access this information, which will be uploaded to a secure storage system. The health officials can then use the information to:
- Use the contacts captured by the app to support their standard contact tracking procedures.
- Call people to let them know they may have been exposed.
- Offer advice on next steps such as what to look out for, how and where to get tested and what to do to protect further people from exposure.
It’s important to note that officials or the app will not name the person who was originally infected.
You can read about the COVIDSafe app’s privacy features here.
Why it’s important In order to return safely to our normal routines, we need to increase the community’s ability to track and contain any future outbreaks. COVIDSafe does exactly that; by tracking the possible movements of the virus and helping alert people who’ve been in close contact with it.
If you haven’t already downloaded COVIDSafe you can do so for FREE here.
This app has been designed to help you manage your overall health. It was produced before COVID-19 and will continue after and is a handy tool to help you find services near you, discover health related information, check your symptoms, look up details about medications and more. In response to the coronavirus pandemic healthdirect has added more functions including:
- General COVID-19 health information.
- Advice on actions to take (self-isolate, social distancing etc).
- COVID-19 specific symptom checker.
You can download the healthdirect app for FREE here.
This is another Government app that was produced to help Australians stay updated on all COVID-19 related information. It shares the same symptom checker interface with healthdirect so you can also use it to check your symptoms. While the healthdirect app is to help you manage your health, this one is more about providing important COVID-19 related information such as:
- The latest official information and important COVID-19 updates.
- Simple advice depending on your symptoms (i.e. self-isolation, social distancing, seek medical assistance).
- Official COVID-19 case numbers.
- Links to official government website for more information.
You can download the Coronavirus Australia app for FREE here.
The last of the apps highlighted in the Deakin study is MyAus COVID-19. This app has been developed by the Migration Council Australia and is a great option for people who may not speak English as their first language. With MyAus Covid-19 users can stay informed on all COVID-19 related news and information in the language they require. The app features:
- The latest official news and important COVID-19 updates.
- Information on how to access the Australian healthcare system and Medicare.
- Symptom checker.
- Health and lifestyle links.
- Details on how to get tested and what to do if you test positive.
- Large choice of languages.
Medibank Live Better
Medibank also has our own health and wellbeing app called Live Better^. While this is not COVID-19 specific, we have updated it to feature Live Better at Home, a hub of information, tips and online classes to help Australians eat, move and feel better during this time. You can download the app here.
Want to know more about COVID-19?
Visit the Australian Government’s Department of Health website.
We’re here to help.
Medibank Mental Health Phone Support Members with Hospital cover* can talk with a mental health professional over the phone in relation to any mental health or emotional concern, 24 hours a day 7 days a week. Call 1800 644 325.
*OSHC members should call the Student Health and Support Line on 1800 887 283.