Fitbit moves deeper into healthcare with LifeScan deal to combine diabetes devices, consumer wearables

Smartwatch maker Fitbit inked a deal with LifeScan to integrate its health tracking apps with the company's glucose monitoring devices to help patients with diabetes management.

Fitbit executives said the multiyear collaboration will provide people living with diabetes tools and resources that offer a "holistic view of how lifestyle factors like daily activity, nutrition and sleep can impact blood glucose levels."

“Diabetes is one of the fastest-growing health challenges of the 21st century and we believe that equipping people with new and convenient approaches to tracking diet, activity, weight and blood glucose is a critical component in effectively changing the course of the disease,” said Elizabeth Holt, M.D., head of global medical, clinical, and safety at LifeScan, in a statement.

“Connecting OneTouch blood glucose monitoring data with Fitbit wellness tools and insights is an important step in guiding patients to healthy lifestyle choices that promote improvement in health outcomes," she said.

LifeScan, which makes diabetes devices serving more than 20 million people with diabetes, also recently struck a deal with weight loss app Noom to provide diabetes patients with behavioral change support and specialized coaching to help users improve weight management and blood sugar control.

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Through the partnership with Fitbit, patients living with diabetes will have access to the OneTouch Reveal app, which offers glucose monitoring and the ability to link people to healthcare providers. People also will receive a Fitbit Inspire 2 wearable and access to Fitbit Premium, which provides hundreds of workouts, guided programs and personalized insights in the Fitbit health metrics dashboard.

These services are intended to help people with diabetes move more, manage stress, sleep better and eat well. 

People also will be able to sync the OneTouch Reveal and Fitbit apps so that OneTouch blood glucose data can be viewed alongside metrics tracked by Fitbit, giving people the choice to access their information across both apps, the companies said.

"Working in tandem with LifeScan, we are creating a solution that both consumers and healthcare providers can choose as a tool to inspire behavior change, provide a more comprehensive view of health and wellness in between doctor visits and ultimately lead to better disease management," said Amy McDonough, managing director and general manager of Fitbit Health Solutions at Google, in a statement.

The offering will be available first to consumers in the U.S. starting this fall and then offered to healthcare providers and payers as a reimbursed adjudicated option in early 2022. 

The combination of OneTouch and Fitbit offerings will support patients with their management goals, whether it's keeping their blood sugar under control, getting more active or eating healthier,” said Val Asbury, LifeScan president and CEO, in a statement.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, many people living with diabetes experience distress about their condition, about 33% to 50%, including overwhelming feelings that may cause them to slip into unhealthy habits, stop checking blood sugars or skip appointments with their healthcare team. Fitbit points to a recent clinical study in Taiwan that demonstrated that adding Fitbit to a diabetes intervention program can lead to further improvements in fasting blood sugar, hemoglobin A1c and LDL cholesterol.

Fitbit, which was acquired by tech giant Google in January, has been pushing deeper into healthcare by positioning its wearables as devices that can help track medical conditions, such as catching the signs of irregular heart rhythms.

RELATED: Fitbit's ECG app gets FDA nod to track heart rhythm irregularities

Last September, Fitbit’s latest smartwatch secured medical device clearances in the U.S. and Europe, unlocking the full use of its ECG app to help identify cases of the irregular heart rhythm known as atrial fibrillation as it looks to compete with heartbeat-tracking and ECG-enabled consumer wearables such as the Apple Watch.

The company also recently used Fitbit data to study the activity, sleep and resting heart rate changes triggered by COVID-19 infection.

The $52 billion health wearables market is heating up as Amazon launched its Amazon Halo fitness tracker last year. Amazon's wearable has some familiar capabilities such as activity and sleep tracking but also offers new features such as tools to measure body fat and tone of voice as an indicator of overall well-being.

Withings, a French company widely known for its connected consumer health devices, has been pushing further into the healthcare industry. Over the past decade, the company has added medical-grade capabilities to everyday household items such as watches, scales and mattresses.