SINGAPORE —In the heart of Singapore, a quiet revolution is taking place. It doesn’t involve protests; instead, it’s all about wristbands, apps and smartphone notifications.
Singaporeans are increasingly embracing health technology like never before. This shift isn’t just about staying up-to-date with the latest gadgets; it represents a journey toward a healthier and more informed life.
The digital wellness trend
Singapore-based research firm RySense, in collaboration with SingHealth, engaged 1,051 respondents in an online health survey on RySense’s proprietary panel HappyDot.sg in September 2022.
The survey results revealed exclusively to Yahoo Southeast Asia found that 85 per cent of Singaporeans (aged 15 years and above) are actively participating in wellness activities by using health tech wearables, devices or apps, indicating a significant shift toward personalised health management.
Popular uses of health tech
So, what are Singaporeans using these digital tools for? Among the favourites from the survey are:
Tracking and achieving fitness goals (22 per cent): It’s not just about looking good in a beach selfie; it’s about feeling great and reaching personal fitness milestones.
Participating in health challenges for prizes (22 per cent): Singapore’s competitive spirit is alive and well, with many seizing the opportunity to win rewards while staying fit.
Managing health appointments and data (18 per cent): Organising health records and appointments efficiently.
Tech-enhanced health and happiness
For some, health tech isn’t just a shiny accessory; it’s a genuine game-changer. Among those who have adopted these technologies to track food intake and diet, 93 per cent reported significant improvements in their well-being.
Imagine losing 38kg by simply being more mindful of your daily steps and workouts over the past few years. That’s what Rais Omar, a seasoned IT professional in his mid-40s, achieved with the help of the Samsung Health app on his Android smart watch.
He said, “The device helped me keep track of my regime along with dieting, it helped me lose 38kg. It has changed my routine, and achieving step counts of 20,000 and above now brings me greater joy.”
Then there’s a 28-year-old Jake, working in the publishing sector, who started using health tech wearables as part of a company wellness fund. Jake shared, “It made me more conscious of my daily activities; for instance, my watch would ask if I was working out when I take walks for more than 15 minutes.
“It also warns me when my heart rate is elevated when I’m stationary (which is also a sign that I should probably cool down on the alcohol. I have also deliberately changed my lifestyle to earn rewards, such as clocking in more exercises to close quests to earn coins, because who doesn’t love free vouchers?”
Notable health tech devices and apps
In Singapore, there is a growing popularity of several health tech devices and apps, according to those Yahoo Southeast Asia spoke to.
One app is LumiHealth, which was created through a collaboration between the Health Promotion Board (HPB) and tech giant Apple, as part of Singapore’s Smart Nation initiative.
LumiHealth is designed to encourage healthier lifestyles through personalised programmes. The app offers many features, including tracking physical activity, monitoring mental well-being and sleep patterns, and providing preventive screening reminders.
It motivates and guides users in tackling daily health challenges with personalised tips and nudges, acting as a virtual health coach. Users can also earn rewards in the form of coins by completing tasks, which can then be redeemed for e-vouchers at various retailers.
Another app is Healthy 365, which plays a role in the National Steps Challenge, aimed at encouraging residents to lead more active lives.
This app rewards participants with “Healthpoints” for engaging in health challenges and programmes. It connects with fitness tracking devices to record daily step counts and active exercise duration.
For those seeking convenient management of medical appointments, there are also one-stop health apps available, especially useful for caregivers.
Two such apps are the OneNUHS app and Health Buddy. These apps offer various healthcare services, including appointment scheduling, requesting medical reports, viewing test results, and ordering medications.
Furthermore, the HealthHub SG app serves as a national digital healthcare platform, enabling users to access their health records and conduct various transactions across participating restructured hospitals, specialist outpatient clinics and polyclinics, within the public sector.
Challenges and rewards
Of course, no journey is without its challenges. Jake mentioned the struggle to disconnect from constant notifications. The 28-year-old also spoke about some hurdles when migrating to new health tech apps, but noted that the rewards of digital wellness are worth the temporary inconvenience.
He added, “With my Apple watch, it does become increasingly harder to stay disconnected, especially with constant notifications, though this can be avoided. There’s also the recent issue of migrating to the new Lumihealth app with apparently lower reward tiers.
“For a good 10 minutes, I thought I lost $45 worth of vouchers, but it’s still there. But still, fewer rewards are better than none, and I think regardless—it’s enough of a tiny push to nudge me to make more healthy decisions.”
The future of health tech in Singapore
The healthcare system in Singapore is also keeping pace with the rapid advancements in technology. SingHealth is actively exploring ways to integrate digital tools into the healthcare ecosystem to benefit all citizens.
One example of this is the National Cancer Centre Singapore‘s work on tailored cancer treatments designed to directly target and eliminate cancer cells.
After a patient undergoes cancer surgery, AI is employed to pinpoint specific cancer proteins that are vulnerable to treatments. These proteins are unique to each individual. Once identified, clinicians can develop personalised vaccines to prevent the recurrence of cancer.
Furthermore, AI is being employed to predict risks and analyse medical scans, thereby reducing wait times and allowing healthcare professionals to allocate their attention to other essential tasks.
According to a GovInsider report last year, Benedict Tan, SingHealth’s group chief digital strategy officer and chief data officer, said that healthcare providers may soon have the ability to collect and analyse data from medical devices and wearable technology to offer continuous care for patients with chronic conditions.
These devices, including bedside monitors, fitness trackers and smartwatches, can monitor crucial health parameters such as blood pressure and blood glucose levels for patients with conditions like hypertension and diabetes.
With that, it is becoming evident that Singapore’s digital health revolution is here to stay, and it’s more than just a passing trend; it has become a way of life.
The RySense survey paints a picture of a city eagerly embracing the power of health tech, where gadgets are more than just gadgets – they’re allies in pursuing a healthier, happier life.
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