Mobile carrier's health tool offers new way to stay in the pink

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 25 June, 2014, 4:49am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 25 June, 2014, 5:12am

Amid the alarming increase in the number of Hong Kong adults with metabolic syndrome, wireless network operator SmarTone Telecommunications has launched a new service that not only tracks a person's vital signs, but also helps promote a healthier lifestyle.

SmarTone chief executive Douglas Li yesterday said there were plenty of fitness-tracking mobile applications and devices on the market, but all of them lack a common platform through which users can securely record, transmit, store and even share their health-related data with physicians and close family.

After more than two years of development, the new "HealthReach" app from SmarTone subsidiary Connected Health enables those features when combined with three wirelessly linked devices used to record blood pressure, heart rate, blood glucose, body weight and electrocardiogram data.

Each device has a so-called near-field communication chip, which allows the data gathered to be wirelessly transmitted - over Wi-fi, 3G or 4G connection - to Android smartphones with the same chip.

Li said human error and omissions were eliminated by that machine-to-machine data transfer and automatic upload to a secure online storage hub, or "cloud platform", provided by Connected Health.

"This service is the only one of its kind in the world that we know. It's a lifestyle management solution for the health-conscious and those actively managing metabolic risk factors identified with heart disease, diabetes and strokes," Li said.

The South China Morning Post last month reported that more than one in four adults in Hong Kong has metabolic syndrome, which increases the risk of heart disease and diabetes. In 1990, the figure was less than one in 10, according to findings from a study published last year in the journal Metabolic Syndrome and Related Disorders.

Dr Dennis Wong Chung-tak, a consultant surgeon at St Teresa's Hospital in Kowloon, attributed that rise to unhealthy diet and lifestyle.

The HealthReach app is free to download from the Google Play online store, but the service costs HK$168 a month under a 12-month contract. It can be used only with designated devices, such as the electrocardiogram recorder, which can be bought separately from SmarTone shops.