Fitbit, Google Cloud unveil wearable information analytics service for healthcare



On Tuesday, Fitbit Health Solutions and Google Cloud announced they’re launching a new service to help healthcare and life science organizations utilize data from wearables.

The company said that Device Connect for Fitbit allows patients to make their Fitbit data available to providers, giving these patients control over who they share their information with and for what purpose. The tool also includes a “data connector,” so data can be integrated with Google Cloud’s BigQuery analytics engine or mapped to emerging data standards. The connector can also make use of the Cloud Healthcare API, making Fitbit information interoperable with clinical data. 

The new service will also include an analytics dashboard and can use artificial intelligence and machine learning. Fitbit and Google Cloud said the tools could be used to monitor patients before and after surgery, care for chronic conditions, manage population health, address health disparities and collect data for clinical studies.

“With this solution, healthcare organizations will be increasingly able to gain a more holistic view of their patients outside of clinical care settings,” Alissa Hsu Lynch, global lead for medtech strategy and solutions at Google Cloud, and Amy McDonough, managing director of Fitbit Health Solutions, wrote in the annoucement.

“These insights can enhance understanding of patient behaviors and trends while at home, enabling healthcare and life science organizations to better support care teams, researchers and patients themselves.”

THE LARGER TREND

Fitbit was officially acquired by Google early last year after the deal was held up for months by regulatory probes. The company recently received FDA clearance for its photoplethysmography atrial fibrillation (AFib) detection algorithm and released a new line of health and fitness-tracking wearables. 

Meanwhile, Google is nearing the launch of its own branded smartwatch, called the Pixel Watch. The tech giant said the new wearable will integrate Fitbit’s health and fitness capabilities.

Remotely monitoring patients is a growing trend within the healthcare and life science sectors. A recent study published in JAMA Internal Medicine found remote patient monitoring use among Medicare beneficiaries increased from 91 claims per 100,000 enrollees in February 2020 to 594 claims per 100,000 enrollees in September 2021. 

But a review published in JMIR found some barriers to increased adoption. Though health-tracking wearables could motivate behavioral change among patients and provide more comprehensive information for providers, they might require more clinician training and add to their workloads.



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