Frequently Asked Questions


1. What do you mean by ‘Principal’?

The person at the centre of a Familyze network. Usually an older person living independently in their own home. They may have some minor health complaints but are generally healthy.

2. What do you mean by ‘Observer’?

Everyone in a Familyze network who is not the Principal. These are people who care about the Principal (family, friends, neighbours) and are happy to chat with Familyze from time to time to log observations about that person’s wellbeing.

3. What topics are covered?

Familyze is designed to keep continually updated on twenty topics, chosen in close consultation with our medical advisory board. These are:

    • Medical
    • Appetite
    • Breathing
    • Cough
    • Falls
    • Fatigue
    • Pain
    • Sleep
    • Weight loss
    • Psychological
    • Memory
    • Mood
    • Worrying behaviour
    • Daily Living
    • Cleaning
    • Dressing
    • Exercise
    • Medication
    • Personal hygiene
    • Toilet
    • Environmental
    • Alcohol
    • Doctor visits
    • Regular outings

If you think that there is a topic missing from this list, please let us know. The easiest way to do that is to leave us feedback by typing ‘feedback’ to the Familyze bot.

If you think there’s something that we’ve missed then please let us know as we’ll be adding new topics in the future. The easiest way to do that is to leave us feedback (by typing “Feedback” in the Familyze thread).

4. How accurate do I have to be?

Be as accurate as you can be but don’t get too worried. Imagine you’re talking to the Principal’s doctor. You’d answer as accurately as possible, including some information which was only a ‘best guess’. Take the same approach when talking to Familyze - any information is better than none at all.

5. Does it matter that I am not a medical expert?

Not at all! The idea behind Familyze is to collect the observations made by non-experts that are otherwise missed. Doctors and nurses only see a patient from time-to-time and have to build an accurate picture solely on those interactions (plus any tests they do). Your observations will help them to build a clearer picture faster.

6. What type of observations can I log?

If you notice something unusual or out of character you should initiate a Familyze conversation under the relevant topic so that the observation is in the system. If there’s nothing unusual to report just report this fact whenever Familyze chats with you.

7. Does every observer have to log responses?

No, It’s fine to have people in the network who simply access the reports to ‘keep an eye’ on the Principal. However, we strongly recommend that you don’t have too many people like this.

And remember, phone and video calls (Skype, FaceTime, etc.) can be used to make valid observations. Even family members living overseas can be actively involved in a Familyze network.

8. How does any of this help the Principal's health?

There’s an old saying, ‘An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure’.

By collecting lots of observations from a number of people we build up a picture of the Principal’s wellbeing. When potentially worrying patterns start to emerge, the Principal’s doctor can intervene earlier, which almost always leads to better long-term outcomes.

9. How does any of this help a doctor?

More information helps doctors make better diagnoses. By displaying relevant information collected over time you will help the doctor identify worrying trends earlier. This means that simple solutions can be put in place before the problem gets out of hand.

In fact, a recent study by Nesta, the UK’s innovation foundation, stated that 9 out of 10 GPs found health data generated by apps useful, and that “...GPs clearly understand the role patient-generated health data can play in improving the quality of care they deliver. That information can be an effective way to close the loop between people’s everyday experiences and the provision of professional healthcare.”

You can read about it here:

10. Everyone in our family is healthy right now. Why should we bother using Familyze?

Familyze is actually designed for use when the Principal is healthy. You should expect to report good news almost all of the time.

Occasionally answering a few relevant questions about a different medical topic makes everyone in the family more alert to the sorts of problems that older people encounter. Familyze can help start important conversations amongst family members that will keep the Principal living independently for as long as possible.

11. Why does Familyze use chat to communicate?

We wanted to build something that felt like a normal conversation between families and friends and everyone on the planet knows how to have text/ SMS conversations (over 90 billion text messages are sent every day on all platforms).

By setting up short, sharp conversations through a chat format we think you’re more likely to want to interact with Familyze, which means that you’ll log more observations and help build a clearer picture of how the Principal is getting on.

Using Familyze

12. How long does a conversation take and how frequently do they happen?

You can log a complicated observation on a single topic in under 60 seconds. Afterwards you will be asked if you want to answer questions about another topic but it’s fine to say ‘no’.

13. What do I do if I don’t know the answer to a question?

In many cases there’s a ‘Don’t know’ option when answering a question. Where this doesn’t exist, just be as accurate as you can be but don’t get too worried - any information is better than none at all.

14. How frequently do conversations happen?

As often as you want. You can initiate a conversation at any time (just open the Familyze message thread and type “Hi”). After each conversation you will be asked when you want to speak again; the options are tomorrow, in three days time, next week and in two weeks.

If you say that you don’t know when you’d like to chat next, Familyze will automatically contact you in three days time.

15. Can I start my own observation whenever I want?

Yes. Simply open the Familyze message thread and type “Hi”.

16. Can I start an observation on any topic I want?

No. For the moment Familyze is collecting observations on a specific set of 18 topics. These were chosen as the most medically relevant by our Advisory Board, which is made up of health professionals from Australia, New Zealand and the UK.

We will be adding new topics in time so if you think there’s something that we’ve missed then please let us know. The easiest way to do that is to leave us feedback (by typing “Feedback” in the Familyze thread).

17. How do I stop chatting?

Just type ‘quit’ or close the Facebook Messenger app on your device.

18. How do I access the Familyze dashboard?

By selecting “Dashboard” from the menu or by typing “dashboard” when in a conversation.

19. How do I access the document that a doctor or nurse would see?

Select “Report” from the menu or type “report”. Only the Principal and Observers with ‘Kin’ status have access to this information.

20. Do we all have to call the Principal by the same name?

No. Familyze will remember your relationship with the Principal and use the name that you use.

21. Can I change my answer?

Sort of! If you log two responses to the same topic in under ten minutes then the earlier one is totally erased. If you’re unhappy with your answers, just do the following:

  • 1. Complete the observation anyway.
  • 2. When Familyze asks, “Would you like to discuss another topic?” say, “Yes”
  • 3. When Familyze asks, “What topic would you like to discuss?” type in the same topic name and start again.

22. Can I schedule Familyze to talk to me at a specific time?

At the end of an observation Familyze will ask you when you’d like to chat again. The options are tomorrow, in three days, next week and in two weeks.

23. Mostly I speak to the Principal on the phone. Does this count?

Yes. As do video calls (Skype, FaceTime, etc.). Familyze will always ask you whether your last interaction with the Principal was face-to-face, phone or video.

Managing Your Familyze Network

24. How many people can we have in one Familyze network?

As many as you want! The Principal or anyone with ‘Kin’ status can add more at any time by selecting “invite” from the menu or typing “invite”.

25. Does the Principal have to be involved?

No. You can set up a Familyze network ‘around’ an individual without their direct input.

However, there’s a great saying in healthcare: ‘Not about me without me’. Research shows that outcomes are far better when a patient is informed and involved so we would always encourage you to get the Principal involved.

26. Does the Principal have to be involved?

No. Unfortunately the current version of Familyze doesn’t allow you to do this.

27. Can I change the name that I told Familyze to call the Principal?

No. Unfortunately the current version of Familyze doesn’t allow you to do this.

28. How do I invite people into my Familyze network?

By selecting “invite” from the menu or typing “invite”.

Not everyone can invite new network members; only the Principal and ‘Kin’ are allowed to do so.

29. Why are there different levels of Observers (eg ‘Kin’, ‘Close’ and ‘Constant’)

We recognise that whilst there are often lots of people who interact with the Principal and care enough to use Familyze, some are closer to that person than others.

‘Kin’ are those people that are closest to the Principal, usually family members. They are more involved now and will have greater responsibility for the Principal in the future. As such, they have access to the most information and most control over the Familyze network (ie they can invite others to join).

‘Close’ and ‘Constant’ would not and should not expect to be involved in serious medical discussions. As such, they have access to less information (they see only a simplified dashboard and do not see the medical report) and less control over the network.

30. How do I leave Familyze forever?

Whilst the product is in ‘beta’ we will have to do this for you manually.

Contact us by typing “Feedback” in the Familyze thread and tell us to remove you from the system. We promise that this will happen within 3 days. After that you will not be able to log new observations (unless you join up again) but your old observations will stay in the system.

As this is a beta version of the product we would also like to contact you via email one last time to get your feedback and understand why Familyze wasn’t right for you.

31. Can I upgrade / downgrade other members?

No. This facility is unavailable in the beta version.

32. How do I reset the dashboard and medical report?

There is no automatic reset function in the current version. Please contact us via feedback (by typing “Feedback” in the Familyze chat)and we will reset for you. We promise that this will happen within 3 days.


33. What happens to my responses?

Observations to Familyze are stored in a secure database. Your answers to specific questions are collated and compared with corresponding answers from others in your Familyze network. These are made available in summary form on the dashboard (select “dash” from the menu or type “dash”) and in the report (select “report” from the menu or type “report”). At no time will your responses be specifically tagged to your name.

The Familyze team will have access to anonymised data from all users for ongoing research purposes. The anonymisation process means that we will never be able to identify any individual or even any specific Familyze network.

34. Who sees my answers?

No one sees your answers to specific questions.


35. Do we have to use Facebook?

Yes. For the moment Facebook Messenger is the only way to interact with Familyze. Very soon we plan to expand to WhatsApp, Apple Messages and other texting platforms. When that happens different users in the same Familyze network will be free to log observations from their preferred platform.

36. I want to use WhatsApp. Can i?

Unfortunately, WhatsApp doesn’t allow chatbots of any kind. Because it is owned by Facebook, it appears that the strategy is that Facebook Messenger is to be their main chatbot platform.

37. I see the Principal less time than other family members. Is it worth me joining Familyze?

Yes. Logging an observation after a phone or video (Skype, FaceTime, etc) contact is still very relevant. Also, joining a Familyze network gives you access to the dashboard and the information available to a health care professional (if you have ‘Kin’ status in the network).