A system from Fujitsu FIP Corp. will automatically calculate and award wellness points to 10,000 members of the automaker's health insurance society.

The Mitsubishi Motors Health Insurance Society (MMHIS) in Japan is launching a new program that will reward its 10,000 members for staying healthy, based partly on data collected via Fitbit wearable devices.

Under the arrangement, to be launched this month, technology service provider Fujitsu FIP Corp., will use data from the wearable devices, along with each user’s health and medical check-up information—held by the Health Insurance Society’s general information system—to calculate and award the points. The points will be redeemable for incentives such as gift cards

Since each type of data will be captured automatically, it will be possible for each insured person to earn rewards without the need to enter data or keep track of his or her points. Tetsuya Kawarazaki, chief director at MMHIS says that kind of automation was a key goal  since last April, when the health insurance society first started looking at the creation of a wellness reward program.

“In considering the mechanism, we have been discussing with Fujitsu FIP about how to thoroughly eliminate the bothersome hurdles to participation, such as understanding and registering health points, and the ease of continued use and appealing incentives that will lead to raising health awareness,” Kawarazaki says.

The creation of the point-based wellness reward system follows new guidance from the Japanese government aimed at helping to control the nation’s healthcare costs. In May, Japan’s Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare issued guidelines to encourage health insurers to offer wellness-oriented incentives.  In response to this, many health insurance associations and municipalities are working on similar points-based systems that reward participants who exercise or have regular checkups.

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In the Japanese healthcare system, most people have some form of private health insurance, but most of the bills are paid by the government via the Statutory Health Insurance System. Private insurance plays a supplementary role. The MMHIS is a health insurance association owned by Japanese auto manufacturer Mitsubishi Motors Corp.

Points-based rewards systems using wearable devices are becoming popular in the United States as well. According to a recent survey by Fitbit Health Solutions and Springbuk Inc., the best-performing corporate wellness are incorporating digitally connected tools like telehealth and wearable devices, along with data collection aimed at measuring the health outcomes and financial impact of their corporate health and wellness programs.

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