The future of corporate wellness - a healthtech perspective
Starting in April 2017, NEC is collaborating with FiNC, Inc., a mobile healthcare venture specializing in the area of prevention. By combining NEC the WISE, NEC’s cutting-edge AI technology group, with solutions provided by FiNC, we have started development of wellness solutions utilizing AI. We spoke with Yuji Mizoguchi, founder and CEO of FiNC, Inc. and Hiroaki Nakano of NEC about the circumstances that led to a collaboration between our two companies and what we are aiming to accomplish.
The future of corporate wellness - a healthtech perspective
The medical field in Japan is currently facing many serious social issues. Our company develops and provides solutions for these issues grounded in three dimensions: food, exercise, and rest. One of these solutions is the corporate wellness service that we launched in December 2014. Promoting mental and physical health for each employee will surely lead to an improvement in work performance. We are confident that we can resolve management issues with roots in health management. We are not trying to do everything ourselves. We specialize in prevention, and NEC has a wide-range of knowledge and technology in the medical field. The idea is that through this partnership, we would be able to complement each other’s strengths.
The market scale of the healthcare area is large, and NEC has developed businesses, such as establishing electronic medical record systems for hospitals and health management support systems for companies and local governments. One of our business objectives is improving the efficiency and quality of medicine by utilizing AI and IoT technology, and we have been formulating and verifying hypotheses for new businesses. However, in the medical area, a solution for a certain issue is not considered robust unless you can clearly back it up with analysis. So we were considering collaborations with companies that have advanced know-how regarding health risks. FiNC is an ideal partner given its superior content in the healthcare area and its B2C channels.
New management index necessary to establish corporate wellness
Take professional athletes. You’d be hard-pressed to find professional athletes who don’t take care of themselves. These days, even business people who work for a salary at a regular company must maintain both health of mind and body to improve their productivity. However, this is not something that can be resolved with just individual efforts. For the company, it has become necessary to create a system to support the health of their employees as an important part of the management strategy.
This is also an issue that NEC is facing. Human resources are a deciding factor in whether a business will succeed. What can a company do to maximize the performance of its employees? One method is to implement corporate wellness programs. Corporate health-promoting measures used to be considered purely as an expense. However, we are seeing a shift from the undertaking of efforts for preventing chronic disease and providing support for mental health issues solely as a means to reduce medical costs to considering them an investment that leads to improvements in productivity and the creation of an environment that will attract new talent.
Our biggest issue is that we still do not have a clear quantitative index. This is why we are trying to draw up a management index as our first step. Are the employees of your company healthy? Are they mentally stimulated? How high is employee engagement? If we can establish a common scale, these measurement issues can be resolved with technology.
What we are trying to realize through technology is a way for each of our employees to unconsciously monitor their own health condition and to provide advice for improvement that fits individual needs in a timely manner. Continuity is the most important thing in maintaining a person’s health. To improve continuity, it is necessary to have a system that is convenient for the user. FiNC sees things the same way and through countless improvements in the user experience, they have achieved an extremely high number of active users, which means a high utilization rate for the solutions that they provide. This was one of the reasons that we felt a strong appreciation for FiNC and their services.
NEC has proven results in the development and provision of a variety of solutions regarding OA and security for companies. So we were envisioning the use of various devices, such as the cameras used to monitor room access, phones, and PCs used in offices, based on the concept of connected devices to gather and analyze vital data. The information obtained from face and voice recognition accumulated daily through the IoT sensors in the office are just the kind of input needed for FiNC solutions. Through this type of collaboration, we are hoping to create an even higher synergistic effect.
Working with companies and contributing to richer lives for individuals
If you want to receive personalized services to maintain your health, currently you are constrained by time and place, and since instruction requires a specialist’s expertise, it is generally very expensive. Through our collaboration with NEC, we hope to create a solution that turns this concept on its head. Personalization on a mass level–making it possible for anyone to easily enjoy optimal services at a low cost. I see great potential for improvements using technology.
Through our partnership with FiNC, we will put into practice and verify our own corporate wellness initiatives and develop a new solution for companies. By providing better mental and physical health for every employee, the effect will gradually spread to their families and to the local community. By expanding corporate wellness initiatives, we hope to contribute to the spread of more diverse styles of living and working.