Fitbit & Google partner to accelerate IoT in healthcare
Fitbit Versa
Image credit: Fitbit

Fitbit & Google partner to accelerate IoT in healthcare

Health tracker and wearables company Fitbit has teamed with Google to open up new insights and innovations in digital health. Together, they hope to “bring together the strengths of both companies to innovate and transform the future of wearables”.

Fitbit announced the move today, with its plans to deploy Google Cloud to increase operational efficiency, agility, and speed to market. It will use Google’s new Cloud Healthcare API to integrate its data into healthcare applications, it said.

The new API seeks to address the enormous interoperability challenges in healthcare data, as highlighted by Internet of Business in our recent report on the use of AI in the NHS.

The partnership will allow users to connect data from Fitbit wearables with electronic medical records (EMRs), giving themselves greater awareness of their own health, and providing doctors with a more complete view of patients’ wellbeing. The result could be more personalised care and new insights into any risks and lifestyle challenges.

Fitbit recently acquired health coaching platform Twine Health, in a move that allows it to use its wearables to help those living with conditions such as diabetes and hypertension. By adding Google’s Cloud Healthcare API to the mix, the platform allows clinicians and patients to collaborate more closely, and easily, on long-term health management.

Google Cloud for Healthcare

“Over the past decade, we have built an incredible foundation as the leading wearables brand, helping millions of people around the world make lasting behaviour changes that improve their health and wellness through fun and engaging experiences,” said James Park, co-founder and CEO of Fitbit.

Working with Google gives us an opportunity to transform how we scale our business, allowing us to reach more people around the world faster, while also enhancing the experience we offer to our users and the healthcare system. This collaboration will accelerate the pace of innovation to define the next generation of healthcare and wearables.

“At Google, our vision is to transform the way health information is organised and made useful,” added Gregory Moore MD, PhD, VP of Healthcare for Google Cloud.

“By enabling Fitbit to connect and manage key health and fitness data using our Google Cloud Healthcare API, we are getting one step closer to this goal. Together, we have the opportunity to deliver up-to-date information to providers, enhancing their ability to follow and manage the health of their patients and guide their treatment.”

Plus: Fitbit Q1 results

In related news, Fitbit has reported its Q1 2018 financial results. Revenues fell by 17 percent, in line with analyst expectations, with net losses deepening to $41 million, from a Q1 2017 loss of $34.4 million. The company sold 2.2 million wearables – 800,000 fewer than in the same period last year.

Internet of Business says

Fitbit’s partnership with Google represents the next vital step of its journey deeper into healthcare. The company made waves when it entered the wearable space with its attractive, affordable devices, and the healthy lifestyle they promoted.

Yet, to date, it has done little to build on the data recording and visualisation opportunities offered by its own Fitbit app. For all its heartbeat-, sleep-, and exercise-tracking abilities, it offers little deeper insight to users.

The value of Fitbit device data is beyond any doubt – it has already helped to predict diabetes and heart problems, for example – but the opportunity to maximise its value remains.

And, from its latest financials, the company has much to do about its hardware business, too.

Collaborations with healthcare researchers and data/technology companies will play an important role in Fitbit’s future, especially in the face of fierce competition from other wearables providers, notably Apple whose Watch now represents 50 percent of smart watch sales. Given the rising tide of AI and data analytics in healthcare, Fitbit is well placed to ride the wave – if it can survive.