Healthy 365 (H365) is an app launched by the Health Promotion Board (HPB) to encourage users to adopt a healthier lifestyle through games and rewards.
The app is not new, having been around since 2015 as a digital companion for participants of the National Steps Challenge.
However, after years of languishing in the background, the H365 app is finally getting the attention it deserves. More specifically, it will be the digital hub supporting Healthier SG, an initiative to promote preventive care and improve our long-term health.
An app tailored to the needs of Singaporeans
These days, there are hundreds of apps on the market jostling for our attention, promising to help us track our calorie intake and daily steps, amongst other features; but what makes the H365 app unique is the tailored content and approach targeted at a Singapore audience.
Besides a database providing nutritional information on local food and drinks, there is also a location-based map featuring healthy food options and fitness facilities around a neighbourhood.
In addition, users who have completed health challenges will be awarded health points that can be exchanged for cash vouchers.
While extrinsic rewards are not a long-term solution to promote healthier living, it is a tried-and-tested method that works for our national psyche.
It is ironic, but a combination of reliable public transport and convenient access to amenities is probably why hitting 10,000 steps a day is not the easiest of tasks in Singapore. Therefore, if the promise of NTUC vouchers is what gets a nation moving, it is still a triumph and yet another feature that H365 has got right.
Supporting a Healthier SG
There is no denying that the digital transformation of healthcare, exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic is fast and furious.
At the forefront of our healthcare reforms is the H365 app, the hub of our digital health ecosystem that will eventually support a spectrum of care goals and community programs.
Think about it. Data such as step count, exercise duration and diet logged in our H365 app will be a gold mine of information for our family doctor. Instead of relying on our memory of what we did and ate, doctors can gain an accurate picture of our health, review our progress, and make the necessary recommendations.
Somewhere down the line, there are more plans for H365 to become a real-time healthcare companion to help us maintain a healthy lifestyle. It would provide personalised feedback based on our dietary patterns and nudge us towards making the right choices, all of which can help reduce the risk of lifestyle-related diseases such as obesity and type-2 diabetes.
With a focus on primary care and preventive medicine as part of a Healthier SG vision, the H365 app is just the start of Singapore leveraging technology to empower its citizens to be in control of their health.
Drivers and barriers, what’s behind the low uptake?
As of now, the H365 app has received over one million downloads since its launch. However, that figure would also imply that two-thirds of Singapore’s adult population are oblivious to its existence or cannot be bothered.
So, what is the problem? Is there a way to transform H365 into an app where using it will become as intuitive as engaging with Instagram or TikTok on our phones?
Unfortunately, H365 — being a government-funded app — will frequently be met with scepticism and apprehension by some. There will be younger adults, who feel that such an app is outdated and uncool compared to the services introduced by healthcare startups.
Meanwhile, seniors who would benefit most from using the app might not be tech-savvy enough or lack the language skills to navigate it.
Ideally, more people would need to be using the app regularly for it to complement the Healthier SG efforts. Otherwise, all we would be left with is a digital white elephant without reaping the health benefits.
The H365 app — with a focus on fun, games, and rewards — is a shift away from traditional paternalism and platitudes so often seen in public health reforms.
Instead, it is a laudable initiative that gives citizens the agency to make informed decisions and take positive steps to improve their long-term health. It has the potential to become the beating heart of our digital healthcare infrastructure, and for that, it deserves a try.
Featured Image Credit: Activate.sg