RISE 2022: Humana aims to use data from Fitbit to help some Medicare Advantage members predict adverse events

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Humana is working toward using Fitbit devices it has distributed to Medicare Advantage plan members to help track data on chronic conditions and to encourage healthy behaviors, a top executive said. 

The insurer gave out more than 116,000 devices to MA members in December 2020 and is still in the early stages of determining the best use case for the information gleaned from these wearables.

“A big theme in the discussion we had is, we are still in the early stages here,” said William Shrank, M.D., chief medical officer at Humana, in an interview with Fierce Healthcare. “We are still more in the process of learning.”

Shrank gave a presentation on wearable technology during a session at the RISE 2022 National Conference in Nashville, Tennessee, Tuesday. Humana found there are two key areas where Fitbits can provide meaningful opportunities to help its MA members. 

The first is by encouraging members to participate in healthy behaviors and giving them feedback. The Fitbit device is synced with its rewards program, which can enable seniors to get rewards for doing exercise. 

“It has a number of ways to get content and information about sleep or mindfulness or diet or exercise, which many of our members took advantage of,” Shrank said. 

Another key area is to help members with complex chronic conditions understand and anticipate risk of serious adverse events. 

For instance, the Fitbit can identify when someone who has congestive heart failure is walking up fewer sets of stairs or not sleeping well, signs that could predict “an exacerbation of their heart failure,” Shrank said. 

MA insurers have been stepping up efforts in recent years to improve care coordination among membership to drive down costs. Humana in 2019 launched two pilot programs aimed at better care coordination among MA and commercial plan members that had kidney disease.