Australian app takes aim at male medical machismo

Mon Feb 28, 2011 5:06am EST
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By Elaine Lies

MELBOURNE (Reuters Life!) - The strong, silent and possibly suffering Australian male is the target of an iPhone application that hopes to make men less shy of talking with doctors -- before medical issues become medical emergencies.

Melbourne's The Alfred hospital has launched the "myHealthMate," which features a user-friendly symptom checker that allows men to match 20 areas of their body to over 50 common symptoms and receive medical advice from experts.

"The Australian male's machismo prevents him from presenting early to the local doctor, or what you would call in the States your primary care physician," said Marco Bonollo, head of Disease Management Unit at The Alfred.

"So whereas our wives, girlfriends and partners have forged very strong relationships with general practitioners... , the Australian male is a notoriously late presenter, often ignoring cardinal symptoms such as chest pain."

The result is that men are disproportionately represented among patients at the hospital, making up to 60 percent of admissions a year.

The free app features an interactive representation of the male body with red dots at various key areas, such as the chest or the elbow.

Users can click on each area to get a variety of advice about symptoms, for anything from breathlessness to tennis elbow, including when they should consult with a doctor or head in for emergency treatment.

If diagnosed with a chronic condition, the app -- which also has a special feature on men's cancer -- provides links to a variety of websites with information.   Continued...