Apple, IBM Partner with Health Insurance Company to Give Health-Focused iPads to Senior Citizens in Japan

healthcare appsA recent partnership between Apple, IBM and Japan Post (the largest health insurance company in Japan) will provide customized iPads to millions of Japanese senior citizens. The goal of the program, which is set to launch later this year, is to help senior citizens improve their health and wellness and coordinate the details of their daily lives.

Japan Post already provides a service through which employees check up on senior citizens at home, helping them with everything from household maintenance to medical service arrangements and general caregiving. Now, these employees will be delivering a free iPad to one million elderly customers. They will also be teaching customers how to use a host of applications on the iPad developed by IBM that will help them remember to take medication, make doctor appointments, do groceries and more. Japan Post hopes to deliver iPads to five million customers by 2020.

The initiative should not only keep senior citizens better connected with healthcare providers, but will hopefully improve health research through the collection of big data. Customers will choose to provide identifiable data, anonymous data or no data at all.

In the past year Apple has entered the healthcare arena through products like HealthKit, ResearchKit and the Apple Watch. Now, in tandem with IBM and Japan Post, the tech giant aims to make its products more accessible for the largest elderly generation the world has ever seen.

“This initiative has potential for global impact, as many countries face the challenge of supporting an aging population, and we are honored to be involved in supporting Japan’s senior citizens and helping enrich their lives,” said Apple CEO Tim Cook at a press conference at IBM’s Manhattan headquarters.

Could a Similar Initiative Work in the United States?

Whether or not the initiative will extend into other countries is unknown, but everyone’s wondering: could this work in the U.S.? One barrier is the lack of a single company with the far-reaching customer base of Japan Post, which has pre-existing financial ties with nearly all of Japan’s senior citizens. Furthermore, it’s hard to say if U.S. citizens would trust healthcare companies with their personal data or trust Apple to keep their data secure to the same extent as the Japanese.

If a similar initiative existed in the U.S. would you encourage patients to participate?


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