The government of Singapore and tech giant Apple announced a partnership on a two-year health initiative called LumiHealth. As part of the scheme, Singapore residents can earn up to SGD380 in rewards for completing goals set within the LumiHealth app. The aim is for people to stay younger and healthier for longer. The program will kick off in October 2020.
Paid to Stay Healthy and Fit
As of next month, Singaporeans and residents with an Apple Watch can start using the LumiHealth app to complete activities like walking, swimming and yoga. Users who complete certain tasks set within the app will be rewarded with discounts and vouchers. To ensure the goals are achievable, the app will send every participant personalized challenges based on their age, gender and weight.
LumiHealth will also offer personalized advice and reminders for health screenings and immunizations. Possibly even encouraging people to get the coronavirus vaccine, once available. The general aim is to encourage active and healthy behaviors. Like making better food choices, moving more, exercising regularly and improving sleep habits.
The app is already available in the App Store for pre-order. The two-year program will be rolled out as of October 2020. An Apple Watch is necessary to participate in the program, as is downloading the LumiHealth app. If the user sticks to the two-year program, the dollar equivalent of the rewards equals 90% of the price of the newest Apple Watch.
National Health Program
The LumiHealth initiative is part of a national health program called Smart Nation, launched by PM Lee Hsien Loong in 2014. In 2017, the Singaporean government set aside more than SGD3 billion to enable successful aging, to ensure a secure but open data marketplace, and to enhance public transport networks, amongst other goals. Big data, AI and the Internet of Things are key to realizing this dream within the next decade.
“Even as all of us around the world are dealing with the challenges of COVID-19, we must keep investing in our future. And there is no better investment than in our own personal health”, said Heng Swee Keat, Singapore’s Deputy Prime Minister in a statement. “This partnership between Singapore and Apple will enable Singaporeans to lead healthier lives, but equally important, it will contribute valuable insights to improving the health of people all over the world.”
In 2019, Apple Watch’s competitor FitBit won Singapore’s public health contract to supply fitness trackers under the national program “Live Healthy SG”. Thousands of Singapore residents were able to register for a free FitBit Inspire HR. However, in exchange, they needed to subscribe to a paid coaching subscription and share their data with Singapore’s Health Promotion Board.
What About User Privacy?
As with any smart technology, there are of course privacy concerns tied to using a smartwatch. The announcement stressed that the LumiHealth program is “designed with user privacy and security at its core”. Firstly, all user data is end-to-end encrypted. Secondly, no data is allowed to be sold or shared for marketing purposes. Moreover, the program is voluntary. Users must opt in and provide consent to share information with LumiHealth when they join. They can also opt out at any time.
“The collection of any personal identifiable information will be limited to information that will enable the app to provide an experience that is personalized and relevant to the user’s needs”, said Apple in a press release. “Data will be stored in a highly secure system that is fully compliant with Singapore’s data privacy and security laws.”
In January 2018, the government passed the Public Sector (Governance) Act 2018. This act formally introduced a data sharing regime. It also determined which agency is responsible for the request and sharing of data. Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong also said that the government would be taking responsibility for securing data and preserving every individual’s privacy. Residents can find more information about how the government protects data and safeguards its systems on the Smart Nation website.
Revolutionary Approach of Individual Well-Being
“Digital solutions will increasingly shape the future of our health and healthcare. In particular, wearables are now much more pervasive, and have the potential to revolutionise how we approach individual well-being”, Heng Swee Keat added. “We hope to form a rich anonymised dataset to better inform and shape public health efforts, locally and beyond our shores.”
Over the years, Apple has realized several collaborations with health care institutions. The company also participated in ground-breaking research studies, including the Apple Hearth Study. This was the largest study ever of its kind. The study enrolled 400,000 participants from all 50 American states. Apple’s smartwatch collected data on irregular heart rhythms and automatically notified users who may be experiencing atrial fibrillation (AFib). AFib is the leading cause of stroke.
On Tuesday, Apple announced the new Apple Watch Series 6. This smartwatch can monitor, for example, blood oxygen levels from the user’s wrist. On a website curated by the Belgian association Healthskouts you will find an up to date overview of all health apps approved by the FDA and/or CE (for iOs and/or Android) in the US and the EU.
Singapore in the Forefront Fighting the Coronavirus
Singapore was among the first to roll out a contact-tracing app to stop the spread of the coronavirus. Their app, called TraceTogether, was launched at the end of March. Many other countries based their version of a contact-tracing app on the Singapore model.
In August, the country also introduced an electronic monitoring device to follow people throughout their 14-day quarantine period.
And just last week, the government introduced TraceTogether tokens, in an effort to strengthen the contact tracing network. These tokens exchange Bluetooth signals with other nearby tokens or with mobile phones that are running the TraceTogether mobile app.