Fitbit to wade into care management in pilot this year

By | August 28, 2019

Dive Brief:

  • Fitbit is launching a paid service next month, called Fitbit Premium. As part of the platform, the fitness tracker giant plans to develop personalized wellness reports allowing users to share their data with their physician, including health data trends and analyses of activity, heart rate, sleep and weight fluctuations, later this year.
  • Fitbit also plans to launch a personal coaching product in 2020 for users managing chronic conditions like diabetes, with a limited pilot available at the end of this year.
  • Premium will cost $ 9.99 per month or $ 79.99 annually and will be included under Fitbit Care, a one-year-old connected care platform for employers, health plans and health systems. It will roll out next month.  

Dive Insight:

Fitbit’s move to care management services puts the wearables company in direct competition with rivals such as Livongo, Onduo, Omada and Heart Health.

San Francisco-based Fitbit said the personalized wellness report was developed with input from medical professionals from “leading facilities” to make sure only relevant Fitbit data is shared among the care team. The coaching service rolling out next year will provide users managing chronic conditions with a personalized plan and access to Fitbit’s health and wellness coaches, the company said in a statement.

But Fitbit brings something to the market its smaller rivals don’t have just yet — brand recognition, heft and a built-in user base. Currently, the tracker giant has more than 27 million active users, and its 2018 acquisition of care management platform Twine Health means it can leverage resources already existing in-house.

Mountain View, California-based Livongo in particular is thought to have an edge over its chronic disease management competitors due to its infrastructure, data science abilities and services around connected devices.

There’s little evidence wellness apps actually help consumers attain their health and fitness goals. And consumer privacy advocates continue to ring the alarm over third party companies like Fitbit or Apple having access to people’s medical data and potential problems that could arise from traditional healthcare companies like payers and providers sharing users’ sensitive health information — especially considering the industry’s porous cybersecurity landscape.

The company did not immediately respond to whether it would integrate payer claims data into its app, like health insurer Aetna’s app for the Apple Watch does.

Either way, digital wellness is an popular market. Wearable trackers like Fitbit and the Apple Watch are being adopted higher rates in the U.S. Currently, an estimated 14 million adults subscribe to a mobile wellness service, paying an average of $ 174 each year for a variety of apps, according to Fitbit.

The 12-year-old company says it’s trying to provide a single point of service for the myriad sleep, fitness, and wellness offerings on the market. The paid subscription service announced Wednesday includes sleep tracking, customized fitness and diet programs and health reports. The company maintains it never sells personal user data.

“The launch of Premium also marks an important milestone as we expand our business beyond devices,” Fitbit CEO James Park said in a statement. Currently, the paid subscription service includes nine guided health and fitness programs.

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