HEALTH AND BEAUTY ARCHIVE:
538: Pool party
Keep your cool this summer with a visit to one of Tokyos many pools.
Metropolis shows you where to take the plunge.
536: Don't sweat it
With the hot and humid months upon us, Cristy Burne share some tips on staying
534: Swept away
Put away your broomsticksall you really need to soar through the clouds
is an armful of nylon and a good gust. Cristy Burne checks out the air up there.
532: Tee time
Cant keep it on the fairway? The yips invaded your game?
Rob Smaal finds a few experienced golf pros who can work out your kinks on the
530: Balancing act
An ancient science is helping modern men and women find peace, health and
the always elusive balance. Tama M. Lung takes a closer look at
528: Kicking on
Former K-1 Japan champion Nicholas Pettas shares his love of martial arts
at the new Spirit Gym in Nogizaka. Chris Betros goes along to watch.
526: On call
A revolutionary daily disease self-management system is making life easier
for diabetics. Chris Betros finds out about Lifewatcher.
524: Team spirit
From rugby to roller hockey, Tokyo is teeming with sports clubs for the
expat athlete. Rob Smaal shows you how to get in the game.
522: Type casting
Second-generation blood-type expert Toshitaka Nomi looks at the links between
blood classifications and health. Mick Corliss reports.
520: Like a rock
Climbing instructor Luke Kearns gets a grip on Tokyo's best indoor climbing
516: The personal touch
Madonna and Matsui aren't the only ones who need help staying fit. Hanna
Kite pumps it up with the top personal trainers in Tokyo.
514: From here to maternity
Kavitha Rao turns to a handful of Tokyo experts to track down baby basics
for nervous expat mothers-to-be.
502: Tour de Morton, part deux
Don Morton gets back on two wheels for a leisurely ride out toward Haneda
A revolutionary daily disease self-management system is
making life easier for diabetics. Chris Betros finds out about
For many diabetics, life is an endless round of filling in
daily journals and waiting in doctors' offices to have
their condition monitored. Fortunately, things are getting
better thanks to the handy cellular phone. Lifewatcher, a
revolutionary service from Mobile Healthcare Inc., provides
a daily self-management system for diabetics and people with
weight problems via cell phones. It offers real-time access
to your personal medical records, daily medication, nutritional
intake and other key health indicators.
Once you become a registered subscriber, you can monitor data
on your blood sugar, blood pressure and cholesterol levels,
carbohydrate and calorie intake, as well as insulin and medicine
dosages. All measurements are available for viewing by your
doctor, nutritionist or caregiver via a mobile device or PC
log-in access. In addition, Lifewatcher has collated searches
to all of the major fast-food groups and many restaurant menus
into one personalized mobile dietary database, so that if
you want to go out for dinner and you want to be careful and
still enjoy what you eat, you simply do a search on your cell
It couldn't be more timely. Diabetes is one of the
fastest-growing diseases in Japan, where there are now 8.2
million confirmed diabetics and an estimated 8 million more
who do not know that they have the disease. This means that
one in four people are diabetic or will develop the disease
within their lifetime. According to the Ministry of Health
and Welfare, the figure is growing at an alarming rate of
20 percent a year.
The brainchild of Canadian entrepreneur James Nakagawa and
two partners, Lifewatcher (www.lifewatcher.com)
is a prescriptive care service under the supervision of doctors
and healthcare practitioners. Nakagawa has been in Japan for
about 14 years. Initially, he worked for a couple of years
in the artificial intelligence division of CSK, the parent
company of Sega. He left CSK and formed his own online financial
services consulting company, TWI Ltd., where he spent ten
years. The genesis for Mobile Healthcare came in 1998 when
he established gan-support.com, Japan's first cancer
support website which he created in honor of his father who
succumbed to the disease in 1998.
founder James Nakagawa
"Then in April 2000, a Japanese executive friend who
used to take me drinking in Ginza told me that he had been
diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. He had severe complications
that had not been caught early," he says. "I
didn't know much about diabetes and so I did a lot
of research in Canada and the US. I found out how difficult
it was for patients to monitor it, to keep a count of their
calorie intake and that there was no system available on cell
phones. Even the dietary sites on the Internet were terrible,
not well thought out, at all."
There still remain a lot of myths about diabetes, Nakagawa
points out. "One of them is that fast food equals junk
food and junk food equals bad for your health. But fast food
is not necessarily bad for your health. It's the amount
of what you eat that is important if you have a chronic disease.
People think that if they have diabetes, they can't
go out and eat this or that. That's not so."
Getting Mobile Healthcare up and running was no easy task.
Lifewatcher was in development for about 18 months with Japanese
researchers. "We only had things on paper,"
recalls Nakagawa. "I sent a proposal to the president
of Apple Computer and within two days they called me back
and I was meeting their business development director. They
liked the idea and provided all the hardware and software
support. We started in May 2003."
Next, they had to convince doctors and clinics. "At
first, many doctors looked at Lifewatcher and thought it was
an interesting tool, but they wondered if people could manage
their diabetes on a cell phone where they would have to input
information," said Nakagawa. "I said to them:
'Well, aren't they doing that anyway with daily
journals and so on?' Now doctors are prescribing the
service and patients can claim 70 percent of the costs back
on health insurance. Nutritionists are also recommending it
to their patients. The Ministry of Health and Welfare gave
us the OK, since we are not a medical company and we don't
get in between the doctor and patient. We are the only company
that has received permission from the ministry to use their
nutritional database. The Japanese Red Cross was one of our
earlier supporters. Companies like McDonald's, Mos
Burger, Denny's and many restaurants have been good
about providing nutritional data on their menus."
Then there was the question of convincing diabetics that they
really could manage their disease on a cell phone. Currently,
there are only a few hundred subscribers, "but we're
getting good feedback from them, too," says Nakagawa.
"Doctors say that patients with Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes
often never mention complications. Other times, they neglect
to take their medication or count their calorie intake. Lifewatcher
helps them not only by monitoring their condition, but by
helping their communication with doctors. They just need to
show the doctor their records. Also, to help minimize mistakes,
there is a system that lets you know if the inputted data
is wrong. For example, a red light flashes if a diabetic hasn't
taken his or her insulin." Another plus is that there
are no legal pitfalls. "We are only providing the tools
for people to monitor their health," says Nakagawa.
"So what if the database gets hacked, what are they
going to discover? That I had three Big Macs on Tuesday and
The potential for Lifewatcher in Japan is enormous: there
are over 80 million cell phone users with mobile Internet
access (Lifewatcher is currently available on i-mode, Vodafone
and KDDI, as well as through PDAs). The only drawback for
the foreign community, at least, is that it is available only
in Japanese, but Nakagawa says an English version is definitely
on the horizon. The company hopes to introduce Lifewatcher
to the North American and European markets and discussions
are currently under way with a major overseas telecom company.
"Since last autumn, they have been evaluating us and
say that we have the best comprehensive and integrated disease
management mobile system they have seen," says Nakagawa,
preferring not to name the company.
A jazz fan and self-confessed Trekkie, Nakagawa works with
his marketing manager out of an office in Itabashi Ward and
keeps in touch with his partners online. The business is very
much remote. But with 23 e-mail addresses, three cell phones,
a fax and two phone lines, he is not hard to reach. He is
also an avid reader of medical journals. "I would say
that I have read more than most doctors, at least within the
field of diabetes," he notes. "In the last two
years, I must have read over 150,000 pages."
For further information on Lifewatcher,
contact James Nakagawa at email@example.com
Photo credit: Chris Betros,
Courtesy of Lifewatcher
this article with metropolis readers at http://forum.japantoday.com