Fitbit shifts into high gear with mHealth device strategy

Fitbit is developing advanced sensors and moving forward on medical-grade devices, and its chief executive predicts big strides in mHealth will take root in the next decade.

CEO James Park shared his excitement for the scenario in a recent Bloomberg article, and said he is not concerned about federal agency oversight once Fitbit moves into the regulated medical device realm. The company also is assessing acquisition, he said.

"We're not there yet," Park told Bloomberg. "But we think five to 10 years down the line, the power of these devices to help consumers, healthcare providers, the whole healthcare ecosystem track and give diagnoses to people--I think it's incredibly tantalizing."

Fitbit deployed a heart monitoring bracelet in 2015, although the tool is now the subject of a class action lawsuit. Users across several states claim the bracelet is inaccurate and its marketing program misled consumers. Park told Bloomberg his company will fight the suit, noting the device is not medical-grade and consumers need to use common sense.

Fitness device and app marketing claims have increasingly come under fire from the Federal Trade Commission, as FierceMobileHealthcare has reported in the past year. A vision improvement app was ordered to pay a $150,000 fine as part of a federal settlement relating to deceptive product claims. The FTC also reached a settlement with two companies, and was pursuing charges against two others, in relation to apps that claim to detect melanoma.

Meanwhile, Bakul Patel, associate center director for digital health at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, told Bloomberg that involvement on his agency's end regarding Fitbit devices will happen when the company develops tools that diagnose and treat medical conditions.

For more information:
- read the Bloomberg article