Fitbit is serious about making it easier for doctors and medical professionals to access important health data. The company announced a new partnership with Google to make this happen faster using Google’s new Cloud Healthcare API. Fitbit will use the API to further integrate with the healthcare system, and will also move to Google’s Cloud Platform.
Google created the Cloud Healthcare API to provide a scalable infrastructure that makes it easier to manage different types of healthcare data from multiple sources. For Fitbit, the API could allow it to better connect user data to electronic medical records. This would make it easier for physicians to learn more about a patient and provide more personalized treatment by using the data collected by the patient’s Fitbit device.
Fitbit’s move to Google’s Cloud Platform will help facilitate Fitbit’s healthcare plans. Many Google Cloud products are already HIPAA-certified, and Google already knows how to meet the security and privacy needs of the healthcare industry. Instead of building its own platform in compliance with healthcare industry standards, Fitbit can use Google’s platform, where the regulatory work has already been done.
Fitbit has been open about its healthcare industry ambitions. While the company has always claimed to put health and fitness first, it is beginning to focus more on in-depth health data analysis and how it can better integrate itself with the healthcare industry as a whole. The company recently acquired Twine Health, a HIPAA-certified platform that provides personalized health coaching to help users better manage chronic conditions like diabetes and hypertension.
In recent years, Fitbit has also been trying to give users more health insights through advanced sensors and new software features. The Ionic smartwatch has an spO2 sensor that could help identify sleep apnea, although we haven’t seen many apps take advantage of this sensor yet. Fitbit also announced the forthcoming female health tracking feature of its mobile app, which allows women to track menstrual cycles and symptoms, making that information easily accessible for them and their doctors. Amidst all of this, Fitbit has allowed users to export activity, sleep, food, and other data as XLS or CSV files so they can reference it without the mobile app or give it to their physicians if they wish.
While it’s unlikely that Fitbit will pull a Jawbone anytime soon (Jawbone left the consumer wearable space entirely and now focuses only on medical devices), the company knows that its healthcare plans are just as important, if not more, than its consumer wearable plans. The former leader of the fitness wearable pack has recently faced strong competition from Apple and Samsung as the fitness tracker and smartwatch market become increasingly crowded. Fitbit also likely wants to better compete with Apple in the healthcare industry, as the iPhone maker is also working on ways to integrate more medical data into its Health app.