An example 'Heart' screen as seen in the app.

So, what’s HeadUp all about then? Really?

I live by the old adage, ‘if you haven’t got your health, you’ve got nothing’. Because it’s true. That’s why I’ve spent almost two decades obsessed with making people healthy.

I’ve come to realise that most of us are so preoccupied with juggling the trivial things in our lives, that we drop the most non-trivial ball of all: our health. The thing is, if you forget about your health for long enough, that ball can roll away and never be found.

We’re dying from illnesses we don’t have to die from.

Every year, the World Health Organisation (WHO) looks at the top 10 causes of death worldwide. Here are four diseases that make the list every year:

1.      Cardiovascular disease or CVD. This is the most common cause of death worldwide, claiming 17 million lives annually. In America, 1 person dies from CVD – heart disease or stroke – every 38 seconds.  

2.      Chronic lung disease or COPD takes 3 million lives annually.

3.      Lung, tracheal and bronchial cancers cause 1.7 million deaths.

4.      Diabetes causes 1.6 million deaths.

These conditions are ‘non-communicable diseases’, meaning they’re not transmitted from person to person. They’re not contagious. They are predominantly caused by unhealthy diet, lack of exercise, being overweight and smoking. Together they account for around 40% of deaths worldwide.

In other words, over 20 MILLION people die every single year from diseases that are PREVENTABLE with a healthier lifestyle.

We’re not just dying from them, we’re living with them.

Unless we make drastic changes, non-communicable diseases will simply take more and more lives. The American Heart Association has predicted that the number of deaths from CVD alone will jump to over 23 million by 2030. This is why:

  • 1 in 12 of us has type 2 diabetes. To be clear, this is not type 1 diabetes – the one you’re born with, but type 2 diabetes – the one you develop as a result of excess body weight and physical inactivity.

  • 1 billion people smoke tobacco. And more than HALF of children in the US aged 3-11 show signs in their blood of exposure to second-hand smoke, which is just as dangerous.

  • 422 million people worldwide live with CVD.

  • 1 in 4 people have a mental health issue like anxiety or depression. In Australia, where I’m based, almost half of the population will experience a mental health condition in their lifetime. Mental illness is closely linked to the non-communicable diseases listed above – which is probably why the WHO predicts that depression will be one of the biggest health problems worldwide by 2020.

In short, we are the fattest, saddest, sickest, most over-medicated, tired and inactive people in history. That’s despite all the modern medicine, science and technology designed to keep us from harm. WE are our biggest threat.

It doesn’t have to be this way.

Yes, some people are genetically predisposed to heart disease, depression and obesity. But even if your genes make you more vulnerable to an illness, you can STILL lower your risk of getting it.

Our bodies have evolved almost perfectly to give us all the tools we need to manage our health. We’re just not using them. We’re not living the lives we could or should. In fact, we seem to be doing the opposite: fighting our own biology and expecting some external force to come and save us.  

But nobody is coming to save you. The government isn’t going to take care of your health. Neither are your friends and family. Your boss isn’t and neither is your insurer. The only person that can take care of your health is you.

What about the hospitals?

About half of all hospital admissions in Australia stem from asthma, diabetes complications and chronic lung disease. Many of these admissions could have been avoided if we moved more and smoked less.    

So, sure – we have a ‘health’ ‘care’ ‘system’ but when you stop and think about it, it’s actually the opposite. The healthcare system is one you enter after you get sick. It’s sick-care. It deals with the consequences and outcomes of not being healthy.

Healthcare workers are sick-care workers. Health insurance is a payments mechanism for when you get sick. Life insurance is just death insurance. The Department of Health is busy funding expensive things for sick people, like building more hospitals.

There is no health care system. If there was, it would focus on preventing you from getting sick. Not just treating you afterwards.  

We’re building the world’s first healthcare system.

As ambitious and audacious as it sounds this is HeadUp’s overarching aim. To build a real healthcare system. And with all the recent advances in artificial intelligence, wearable technology, precision medicine, cloud computing, data security and intelligence, we’re in a position to put YOU at the centre of your own healthcare system. A system where you can capture, control, organise and own your health data – and finally make informed, intelligent decisions about yourself. A personalised system tailored to your unique needs and designed to stop you from getting sick in the first place.

Don’t get me wrong – we love the sick-care system – everybody needs a safety net for when things go wrong. But the world is in dire need of true health care. When we succeed in delivering it, it will take the strain off the sick-care system and allow us as a society to take control of our health. To put our money, our time, and our energy into things that not only enable us to live longer lives, but healthier and happier lives, too.

“You may say I’m a dreamer but I’m not the only one, I hope someday you’ll join us.”


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