A new eHealth initiative has been announced as part of a partnership between Apple, IBM and Japanese state-owned conglomerate, Japan Post Group, which involves providing Japanese senior citizens with iPads so they can manage their health more effectively.
Japan has a rapidly aging population, which according to the Japan Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare, will increase from 25% to 40% of the entire population over the next 40 years.
Japan Post Group offers a free post office service to senior citizens, where the mail carriers checks in on elderly customers and then provides their families with an update. As part of the new programme, in the second half of 2015 customers will have the option to upgrade the service to include iPad monitoring.
After Japan Post Group pilots the iPads and software with 1,000 seniors for six months, the company will expand the service in stages. The conglomerate eventually aims to offer the service to 4 to 5 million customers in Japan by 2020.
“We are joining with two of the world’s most respected leaders in technology to bring our elderly generation into the connected world, expand our businesses by deepening relationships, and discover new ways to strengthen the fabric of our society and economy,” said Japan Post Group CEO, Taizo Nishimuro.
The iPads will have all of Apple’s preloaded software, such as FaceTime, and settings for low vision and hearing impaired users. The devices will also come equipped with IBM-developed apps and analytics developed specifically for elderly people, such as medication adherence apps, exercise and diet apps, as well as apps that provide users with access to community activities and supporting services, including grocery shopping and job matching.
“What we’re starting today draws on IBM’s long heritage of innovation at the intersection of technology, business and society,” said IBM CEO, Ginni Rometty. “The potential we see here — as broad as national economics and as specific as the quality of life of individuals and their families — is one example of the potential of mobile-led transformation anywhere in the world where issues of an aging population exist.”
While Japan is the first country to undertake this new eHealth programme, during the launch Apple CEO, Tim Cook, hinted that the rollout in Japan could lead to similar initiatives in other countries, especially those that are also experiencing a rapid increase in their aging population.