Hot on the heels of Apple’s recent play for seniors, wearable-technology company Fitbit (NYSE: FIT) is intensifying its efforts to prevent and manage certain chronic diseases.
San Francisco-based Fitbit announced Wednesday the launch of Fitbit Care, a platform that combines health coaching and virtual care with Fitbit’s wearable devices to deliver personalized interventions. Though the new platform isn’t aimed specifically at seniors, it could prove useful for older adults living with chronic conditions such as diabetes and heart disease.
The senior living industry has seen an influx of smart devices that could aid older adults, including voice-activated assistants and wearable technology.
“With health care costs and rates of chronic disease increasing, there is a clear need for innovative tools and services to help people make the lifestyle and behavior changes necessary to reverse this trend,” Adam Pellegrini, general manager of Fitbit Health Solutions, said. “Expanding our partnership with Humana allows us to accelerate our common goal of helping more people get and stay healthy, and I’m confident that together we can help drive better health outcomes.”
Louisville, Kentucky-based Humana also chose the tech company’s new Fitbit Care platform as a preferred health coaching solution for more than 5 million of the insurer’s members. Fitbit and Humana have been partners since 2013. During that time, Humana has taken a keen interest in senior care, mainly through its acquisitions of Kindred at Home and Curo Health Services, both backed by private equity firms TPG Capital and Welsh, Carson, Anderson & Stowe as well.
“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,” Humana Senior Vice President of Wellness Solutions Jeff Reid said. “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.”
The Fitbit Care platform is partially driven by the clinical expertise of Twine Health, a coaching platform that Fitbit acquired in February. Through the platform, coaches can work with users through multiple channels, such as in-app communications, phone and in-person meetings.
Up to 60% of American adults currently live with at least one chronic condition, according to a 2017 RAND study.
Perhaps even more striking, about one in every four Americans has multiple chronic conditions, those that last a year or more and require ongoing medical attention or that limit activities of daily living, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That number rises to three in four Americans aged 65 and older.
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Fitbit’s rollout of Fitbit Care, along with its growing relationship with Humana, allows the company to keep pace with other wearable-tech competitors vying for spots as solutions within the continuum of care. Those competitors include Cupertino, California-based Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL) and its latest smartwatch device, capable of detecting falls and alerting emergency services.
Shares in Fitbit — which works with more than 100 health plans overall — were up 5.34% by the time the markets closed Wednesday. The company’s health-solutions business is currently a small portion of its overall revenue, according to MarketWatch.
Written by Robert Holly