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Fitbit Launches a Connected Health Platform for mHealth Coaching

Fitbit has unveiled Fitbit Care, a connected health platform designed to give healthcare providers, businesses and health plans a telehealth resource for managing remote monitoring and health and wellness programs.

Source: ThinkStock

By Eric Wicklund

- Fitbit is launching a telehealth platform designed to offer coaching and support for healthcare providers, employers and others using mHealth devices in connected health programs.

With the launch of Fitbit Care, the California-based developer of fitness wearables and smartwatches looks to stake its claim as a telehealth company linking consumers and their care providers. Company officials say the new, subscription-based offering can either be a stand-alone solution or wrapped around an existing health and wellness program.

“With the introduction of Fitbit Care, we continue to expand our healthcare offerings with a new, bundled subscription offering that can help improve outcomes for some of the most common and costly conditions in healthcare, such as diabetes and hypertension,” Adam Pellegrini, general manager of Fitbit Health Solutions, said in a press release. “This unique offering will allow us to better support our 1,600-plus enterprise health customers and the 100-plus health plans that we work with through a comprehensive platform that can help deliver positive, lasting outcomes for their employees and members.”

Pellegrini and John Moore, the former Twine Health co-founder and CEO who become Fitbit’s Medical Director when the company acquired Twine Health this past February, unveiled the new offering, along with a new mHealth app and the company’s first client, during a Tuesday afternoon conference call.

“This is … a true healthcare solution,” Pellegrini said.

READ MORE: Remote Patient Monitoring Brings mHealth Care Management Into the Home

The announcement places Fitbit at the center of the fast-moving remote patient monitoring market, in which hospitals and health systems are increasingly looking for new ways to collaborate with patients outside the healthcare setting. It’s a platform being explored by providers interested in post-discharge treatment as well as care management for chronic conditions, and by employers and health plans looking to expand and improve health and wellness programs.

“With Fitbit Care we are delivering a solution that empowers people to take control of their health, by providing the accountability, support, guidance and resources that remove some of the most difficult barriers to behavior change,” Moore noted in the Fitbit press release. “Supporting patients beyond the walls of the doctor’s office is one of the most important things we can do to drive successful outcomes, and as a clinician I see great potential for Fitbit Care to help tackle some of the biggest challenges in healthcare and improve health outcomes at scale.”

The news comes as the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services looks to expand reimbursement for RPM and telehealth programs through new CPT codes, and as Congress debates dozens of bill designed to make connected health an integral part of the healthcare landscape, particularly in school-based healthcare, mental health and addiction and substance abuse treatment.

Perhaps not coincidentally, the Fitbit announcement comes just days after tech rival Apple unveiled its new smartwatch, which includes mHealth sensors to track falls and heart rate, and just months after the company announced collaborations with dozens of health systems across the country to enable consumers to access their health records through their iPhone.

Pellegrini pointed out that Fitbit has been working for more than eight years with enterprise customers and more than 100 health plans, and has been included in more than 675 clinical research programs from the likes of Cedars-Sinai in Los Angeles and the Dana Farber Institute in Boston. The company’s devices, he said, are included in 10 times more clinical studies than other wearables.

READ MORE: mHealth Finds a Place for Fitbit in Remote Patient Monitoring Research

Fitbit’s new connected health platform includes three significant features:

● Self-tracking through wearables: The company’s software allows users to continuously track activity, sleep, heart rate and other metrics and share that data with care providers through the new Fitbit Plus App. Moore noted the app platform will also integrate with other mHealth devices like blood pressure cuffs and glucose monitors.

● Personalized interventions: the Fitbit Care platform will also enable community social support tools such as challenges, private social groups and guided workouts.

● Health coaching and virtual care: The company is also adding personalized coaching to the mix, offering a virtual link to support for chronic care management and health and wellness programs like weight loss and smoking cessation.

Fitbit also announced that Humana, a collaborator in connected health projects since 2013, is adopting Fitbit Care as the payer’s preferred health coaching solution for employer groups. Humana’s Go365 health and wellness program has its own app for Fitbit Versa and Ionic wearables.

READ MORE: An mHealth Wearable Helps Cedars-Sinai Doctors Manage Patient Care

“Working with Fitbit, we have been able to provide our members with wearable devices, data and insights they can use to achieve their best health and wellness,” Jeff Reid, Humana’s senior vice president of Wellness Solutions, said in a separate press release.

“By adding Fitbit Care’s new health coaching capabilities, we can offer even more personalized, meaningful support to our members who are focused on specific health goals, such as smoking cessation or weight loss, or the management or prevention of chronic conditions,” he said.

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