Fitbit Says Its New Healthcare Apps Could Improve Outcomes, Costs

Jack Murtha
MAY 07, 2018
fitbit healthcare,fitbit research,fitbit hlth,fitbit stock,hca news

Fitbit, first known for focusing on fitness through its consumer wearables technologies, further pushed into the clinical side of the business today, with the introduction of several new apps designed for researchers, healthcare professionals, and patients managing diseases.

The company broke the news at the HLTH conference, focused on healthcare disruption and innovation, in Las Vegas, Nevada. In a press release, Fitbit touted the ability of its new smartwatch-centered apps and clock faces to not only “improve wellness” but also help patients and their care teams better handle conditions like diabetes and certain kinds of cancers.

“Smartwatches provide a powerful platform to deliver important health tools that help our users manage conditions more conveniently than ever before,” Fitbit’s co-founder and CEO, James Park, said in a statement. “With these apps and clock faces, we continue to deliver on our promise to bring important health information to the wrist.”

>> READ: Is Gamification the Key to Wearables?

The company’s pivot toward smartwatches is no accident. Time and again, as Fitbit’s stock price has fallen from more than $45 a share to just under $5 today, analysts have circled Apple Watch as the culprit. After earlier tries, Fitbit released its mass-appeal Versa smartwatch in March, to applause from critics for its functionality and $199 price tag.

At the same time, Fitbit has doubled down on medical data, jumping from mere fitness tracking to clinical information gathering and more. Its February acquisition of Twine Health, a patient engagement and chronic condition management coaching platform, illustrated that step in the wearables leader’s evolution.

And then there’s the business maneuvering that Fitbit has executed. Its apps, for instance, aren’t necessarily made in house. It claimed that more than 18,000 developers have joined its third-party app community.

“With our strong consumer engagement, cross-platform compatibility, and intuitive software and services, we have become a wearable partner of choice for leaders across the healthcare industry,” Park added. “Together, we aim to inspire positive behavior change that can ultimately improve health outcomes and reduce costs.”

So which new apps and clock faces can industry observers, clinicians, and patients find—or soon expect to find—on a Fitbit?

Dexcom. Made by the specialty pharmacy services company Diplomat, this app offers continuous glucose monitoring for diabetes patients. It won’t hit the Fitbit Ionic and Versa until after Q2 2018, but when it does, users may better manage their diabetes, according to the announcement.

Diplomat Pharmacy Inc. Another Diplomat product, this tool is designed to help patients with cancer integrate care management platform data into their Fitbits, resulting in medication and prescription reminders. “With this specialty pharmacy patient engagement tool, oncology patients would have a more intuitive way to manage their therapy regiment,” noted Jeff Park, the interim head of Diplomat.

Fitabase. This data collection platform is supposed to “advance research efforts,” building custom feedback and prompts into wrist-based studies.

One Drop. Fitbit announced its partnership with the diabetes monitoring company One Drop last October, and the app is now live. It provides patients with “evidence-based and clinically effective glucose monitoring,” syncing data from other sources.

Other new apps include Humana’s Go365, offering rewards and tracking to improve wellness; Limeade, an employee-engagement app and clock face slated to improve well-being; Sickweather, which provides illness forecasts to keep users aware of contagions; and a version of the Walgreens app.

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