What do people usually do when they feel run down or a bit feverish? Chances are that many may feel reluctant to visit a hospital or clinic if their condition is not too serious.
Getting an in-person health consultation can often be an arduous task—it’s necessary to take time off work and wait for long times in reception areas, which can be a major obstacle to getting examined. The extra effort required to get checked may even prolong or worsen symptoms.
To address this situation, a new service that provides online health consultations is now available to the public in Japan.
Healthcare app "HELPO" now available for consumers
Healthcare Technologies Corp., a Softbank Corp. (TOKYO: 9434) subsidiary, held a press conference in Tokyo on November 29, 2022, to announce the availability of “HELPO,” a healthcare app previously only available for enterprises and municipalities, to consumers in Japan from December 1, 2022.
As previously reported by SoftBank News, HELPO is a healthcare app that allows users to easily consult with their healthcare providers remotely via chat, as well as search for medical clinics and purchase over-the-counter medication.
Until now, HELPO was offered exclusively to organizations for the purpose of managing employee health. As the general public in Japan has since become even more health conscious following the COVID-19 pandemic, the service is now being offered to meet the needs of individuals.
Chat- and video-based health consultations now available
HELPO's chat-based health and medical consultation service is now available for consumers around the clock. For a monthly fee of 550 yen (including tax), customers can receive real-time advice from a team of doctors, nurses, and pharmacists assembled by Healthcare Technologies. Customers of SoftBank’s mobile communication services—‘SoftBank,’ ‘Y!mobile’ and ‘LINEMO’—are also eligible to receive special discounts and other bonuses.
Customers will appreciate the fact that they can receive qualified medical advice from professionals without having to take the time to go to a hospital or clinic when they feel under the weather.
In addition to chat-based consultations, online video-based health consultations are available with affiliated clinics. One of HELPO's features is that it allows patients to see a doctor on the same day without making an appointment. While there may be waiting times based on the number of requests, customers can wait in the comfort of their own home even if they develop sudden fevers or other symptoms.
Payments can be made with credit cards or the PayPay mobile payment app. HELPO can deliver prescriptions and medications, so a minor illness can be taken care of without leaving home. Since the clinics open from 9:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. on weekdays and from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. on weekends*, businesspeople and those with busy schedules can easily use the video service.
Video-based consultations are not available on Mondays and national holidays.
HELPO Mall offers healthcare products to improve health and wellness
The HELPO Mall offers a variety of health care products, including testing kits for COVID-19 and other viruses, medicine and supplements. Nationwide delivery is available, with delivery within Tokyo’s 23 wards taking as little as 3 hours.
HELPO also enables customers to record the number of steps they take each day to improve their health. Depending on the number of steps taken, customers can earn up to 10 HELPO points per day, which can be used at HELPO Mall. HELPO points can also be converted into PayPay points.
Digitally transforming the healthcare industry
During the press conference, Kengo Harada, Vice President and Head of the Service Planning Division at SoftBank Corp.’s Consumer Business Unit, said, "Various industries are showing growth related to smartphone adoption, but the healthcare industry has lagged behind in this area. As a sales partner, SoftBank will promote HELPO by making it well known at our retail outlets."
Toshio Miyata, a Professor at Waseda University’s Graduate School of Advanced Science and Engineering, also commented, "Many users of online medical services are repeat users. There are many advantages to online medical care, such as not having to wait in line and avoiding the risk of COVID-19 infection. I hope those wondering whether it is better to visit a clinic or to receive online medical care will at least give online medical care a try.”
Closing the press conference, Healthcare Technologies President and CEO Reiji Oishi talked about further business expansion. “We would like to grow to provide even more services while firmly addressing the needs of healthcare tech market,” he said.
In addition to the monthly 550 yen (tax included) fee for HELPO, separate fees apply for medical consultations, prescriptions, deliveries and other services.
(Posted on December 6, 2022)
by SoftBank News Editors