Apple partners with Singapore to encourage fitness with Apple Watch


Screenshot from a video showing how Lumi Health will work.

Apple

Apple is working with the government of Singapore to help get citizens moving and living healthier lives with an Apple Watch. 

The program is a first of its kind, Apple said, because the government is offering financial rewards to people who engage in healthy behaviors.

Residents need an Apple Watch to participate, and the program is administered through an iPhone app called LumiHealth, which will go live on the App Store in October. They can then sign up to earn one-time rewards of up to $380 Singapore Dollars — about U.S. $280 — for activities like meditation, walks, swimming, better quality sleep, as well as public health actions like getting immunizations. Once a Covid-19 vaccine is made available, the app might nudge them to get vaccinated.

Participants can also sign up for wellness challenges and games created by doctors and fitness experts. The assigned tasks are based on demographic factors, such as age, gender, and weight, so super athletes won’t be competing against people who are just getting started with health and fitness. 

This marks Singapore as the first country to launch this kind of program with the Apple Watch. In the United States, Apple is working with private insurers, such as Aetna, on health-tracking initiatives, but it has not yet launched any arrangements with the federal government. 

Singapore offers universal health care for its 5.6 million citizens through a mixed financing system where the public insurance program covers large bills from hospital care. Patients still pay premiums, co-insurance and co-pays for some medical care.

This isn’t the first time Singapore has invested in programs to encourage people to get healthier, theoretically to save costs down the line. The country announced a deal with Fitbit in August of 2019, hinting then at work with other “technology innovators.”

“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.”

Myoung Cha, the executive at Apple Health who led the initiative, said the company worked with the government of Singapore to build something they thought citizens would actually use. “It was co-designed to encourage healthy habits of Singaporeans through gamification and the power of Apple Watch,” he told CNBC. 



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