Fitness tech company Fitbit announced on Wednesday (21 August) that they have signed a deal with the Singapore government to collaborate with the Singapore Health Promotion Board (HPB) on a project to help improve the health of the population.
Like many countries, Singapore faces a rise in chronic conditions like hypertension, type 2 diabetes and cancer. As such the initiative, called Live Healthy SG, was designed by Fitbit and HPB specifically to help promote healthier living through sustained behaviour change, said the statement.
With a population of 5.6 million, Singapore already has a program in place called the National Steps Challenge to encourage people to adopt a healthier lifestyle by enticing them with technology. The challenge offers free heart-rate monitoring fitness tracker for each person that signs up and winners are rewarded with airline tickets and fitness equipment.
In June 2019, the HealthySG taskforce chaired by Mr Amrin Amin, Senior Parliamentary Secretary of Home Affairs and Health recommended the promotion of health through wearable tech as a more high-tech version of the National Steps Challenge. The task force suggested employing the use of smartwatches and fitness devices to nudge and support users in achieving their health goals.
Zee Yoong Kong, CEO of HPB said in the statement that announced the collaboration with Fitbit, “We intend to work with industry innovators, such as Fitbit, on additional efforts to use technology to provide Singaporeans with personalized health advice and nudges, so that they can take control of their own health.”
Live Healthy SG is part of Singapore’s Smart Nation effort which aims to transform key sectors through technology, the statement said. It continued, “The initiative takes on the unique challenge of using its technology to help improve population health, based on the company’s ability to drive behaviour change and health outcomes.”
Leveraging on the Fitbit ecosystem of wearable devices, software and services, participants in the program “will receive a dynamic and personalized experience, helping to motivate them to adopt healthier habits and achieve better outcomes in the areas of physical activity, sleep, nutrition and emotional wellbeing,” explained the statement.
As for the reach of the project, Fitbit CEO James Park told CNBC that he thinks the program could reach up to 20% of the population, or approximately 1 million people.
Starting mid-September, residents of Singapore can register for Fitbit Inspire, specifically designed for employers and health plans. The company launched this model earlier this year. Customers can get the device for free if they commit to spending S$10 a month for a year of premium services which include one-on-one coaching and guidance. The program itself will be launched in October.
Fitbit noted in the statement, “in addition to driving positive lifestyle changes in individuals, the program will serve as a resource that provides detailed population insights to inform future health programs.”
This will enable HPB to further explore opportunities in precision public health, providing specific interventions to the right population at the right time.
Speaking to CNBC, Fitbit CEO James Park said that the negotiations for the contract were ‘highly competitive’ and that Apple was among the bidders vying for the project. Though no details were released on how much the deal is worth, Fitbit said that it is material to the company’s 2019 revenues. CNBC noted a spokesperson mentioning that the agreement with Singapore represents more than 5% of the company’s expected revenue for 2020.