Fitbit partners with Singapore’s HPB on population-based public health initiative

This is Fitbit’s first major integration of a digital health platform and wearables into a national public health programme globally.
By Dean Koh
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Photo: Fitbit

Fitbit announced yesterday that it will be collaborating with Singapore’s Health Promotion Board (HPB) on a healthy population project in support of Singapore’s Smart Nation initiative. The HPB is Singapore’s government agency that implements policy and programmes to improve the nation’s health, and a statutory board under the Ministry of Health (MOH). This is Fitbit’s first major integration of a digital health platform and wearables into a national public health program globally. 

The initiative, named Live Healthy SG, was designed for Singapore by Fitbit to harness technology, behaviour insights and analytics to help Singaporeans get healthier through meaningful and sustained behaviour change. Live Healthy SG will engage people of all ages and levels of health using Fitbit devices and its new Premium service, which is launching to consumers in select markets around the world from late September onwards.

WHAT IT ENTAILS

Live Healthy SG will leverage the full Fitbit ecosystem of wearable devices, software and services, including programs, guidance and individual 1:1 health coaching that will be offered through its new Premium service. Participants will receive a dynamic and personalised experience, helping to motivate them to adopt healthier habits and achieve better outcomes in the areas of physical activity, sleep, nutrition and emotional wellbeing.

In the partnership, the HPB will leverage its outreach channels to support Fitbit in encouraging participation in its program. When participants sign on to the Fitbit programme, there will also be a clear and seamless consent process to indicate if they agree to share the data they provide during the programme with the HPB. Such data will, in turn, provide insights and contribute to more effective health promotion programs that will benefit many Singaporeans.

Singaporeans will be able to pre-register for Live Healthy SG starting mid-September, and the programme will officially go live in late October 2019. Participants who enroll in and commit to one year of Fitbit Premium service will receive a Fitbit Inspire HR at no cost. In addition to driving positive lifestyle changes in individuals, the programme will serve as a resource that provides detailed population insights to inform future health programs. This enables the HPB to explore other opportunities in precision public health, providing interventions to the right population at the right time.

THE LARGER TREND

The HPB’s parent ministry, MOH, introduced the ‘3 Beyonds Strategy’ in November 2017 to keep healthcare in Singapore good and affordable. They are:
(i) Beyond Healthcare to Health
(ii) Beyond Hospital to Community
(iii) Beyond Quality to Value

The “Beyond Healthcare to Health” strategy has seen the HPB ramping up efforts for people to become healthier and more active, through initiatives such as the National Steps Challenge (currently in its fourth season), which was massively popular with many participants signing up for free step counter devices, as well as clocking more walking mileage for incentives such as vouchers, discount coupons and other prizes. According to an official HPB release, season two of the National Steps Challenge which ran from 1 October 2016 to 30 April 2017, has successfully motivated more than 350,000 adult Singaporeans to lead active lifestyles, more than doubling the number of sign-ups in season one, which attracted 156,000 participants.

In the US, Fitbit is working with over 680 clinical research partners, including the University of Michigan and Dana Farber Cancer Institute; more than 1,500 employer customers such as Adobe and Domino’s; and over 100 health plans, including 42 Medicare Advantage plans spread across 27 states, according to a Mobihealth News report in March earlier this year. 

ON THE RECORD

“The area of population health presents an exciting opportunity for innovation. Increasingly, the Health Promotion Board has leveraged emerging technologies as well as behavior insights in the design of our programmes, such as the National Steps Challenge – a nationwide programme to keep active, to encourage Singaporeans to adopt healthy living and to affect behavior change. HPB will continue to embark on such nationwide programs to encourage and support Singaporeans in keeping active, adopting healthy living and affecting behaviour change. 

At the same time, we intend to work with industry innovators, such as Fitbit, on additional efforts to use technology to provide Singaporeans with personalised health advice and nudges, so that they can take control of their own health. Participants of this programme will benefit from Fitbit’s plans to incorporate artificial intelligence and machine learning to encourage physical activity, healthy eating and better sleep quality. The insights gathered can also help to enrich HPB’s health promotion programmes,” said Zee Yoong Kang, CEO, Health Promotion Board in a statement. 

“At Fitbit, our focus has always been on making health more accessible and achievable by giving people fun, simple and innovative technology – and this focus has driven results for millions around the world,” said James Park, co-founder and CEO of Fitbit.