Wearable devices are now a common affordable consumer gadget, with many brands engaged in intense competition for a piece of the growing market, with increasing pressures on the profit margins.
This begs the question – a consumer’s decision to purchase and own a wearable device, which basically provides some health and fitness data, for personal use. There are benefits beyond gathering data for an individual’s consumption, where the impact could reach many other businesses.
In the US, insurance companies have started to offer corporate customers complimentary wearable devices as part of their medical healthcare package, to encourage their employees in picking up a healthier lifestyle, which could lead to lower medical claims resulting in lower healthcare costs in the longer term.
Now, the United Healthcare Services Inc. has offered a program – "The program is called UnitedHealthcare Motion and provides insured employees with a fitness wearable device that tracks their steps. The wearable device sends the health tracking data to the UnitedHealthcare Motion app. If they meet certain goals, employees can earn health reimbursements credits, up to $1,460 per year, based on the number of steps they take."
This is certainly a practice that our government should adopt for the MediShieldLife plan, and they should work with the insurance companies to offer preventive healthcare programs to get Singaporeans to become healthier who could benefit from lower healthcare cost – lower medical spending.
Data collected by the wearable devices, although many critics have questioned the reliability and accuracy, could still be gathered over time to identify risks patterns and anomalies that would benefit the insurers in building better risk assessment models which has an impact on their bottomline.
I have been waiting to see further developments in our healthcare and medical industry, and wondering when this future trend would become a reality here.
The views expressed in this column are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect this publication's view, and this article is not edited by Singapore Business Review. The author was not remunerated for this article.
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Peter Loh is a Market, Business & Competitive Intelligence Professional. More than 20 years experience in marketing/business/competitive intelligence, business planning and supply chain functions, across electronics, automotive, telecommunication and oil & gas industries, with regional and global coverage.