Fitbit partners with WellCare of Georgia's Medicaid plan with focus on chronic disease management

Fitbit- updated
Fitbit is working with WellCare of Georgia to arm Medicaid enrollees with Type 2 diabetes with a Fitbit Inspire device. (Fitbit)

Fitness tracker company Fitbit is teaming up with a Medicaid plan in Georgia to encourage beneficiaries to better manage their chronic conditions.

Marking the company's first partnership with a Medicaid plan, Fitbit is working with WellCare of Georgia to arm Medicaid enrollees with Type 2 diabetes with a Fitbit Inspire device.

Beginning on January 1, 2020, approximately 4,000 plan enrollees with Type 2 diabetes will be eligible to receive a device if they complete their annual diabetic retinal exam (DRE), according to Amy McDonough, senior vice president, and general manager of Fitbit Health Solutions, in a LinkedIn blog post.

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Those who sign up also will receive educational materials and activity challenges through Fitbit’s platform. The goal is to help people adopt long-term behavior changes to better manage their chronic conditions.

RELATED: Fitbit expands healthcare ambitions with new devices, subscription service

"Nearly one in five people in the U.S. are covered by Medicaid, and this partnership is the beginning of an important connection between Fitbit and a population that has not historically had access to innovative healthcare technology," McDonough wrote.

She notes that the partnership is a promising approach that could help an underserved population get healthier and better manage a chronic condition.

Fitbit’s collaboration with Medicaid comes as more health plans, particularly Medicare Advantage plans, have begun to include wearable devices as an embedded benefit for their members.

Next year Fitbit devices will be included in Medicare Advantage plans offered by three insurers, making them even more accessible to seniors who are increasingly interested in adopting technology that can help them be proactive about their health as they age, McDonough said.

Fitbit devices will be an embedded benefit in 59 plans offered by UnitedHealthcare across 27 states—up from 42 plans in 2019. 

"As Medicare Advantage plans increasingly dedicate their focus to keeping their members out of the hospital by driving adoption of healthy behaviors, Fitbit devices and the resources they offer have become an important part of that strategy," she wrote.

RELATED: Fitbit collaborating with pharma giants Bristol-Myers Squibb and Pfizer

2019 has been a busy year for Fitbit as the company made several moves to expand its platform to more people. The company is in the process of being acquired by tech giant Google, which announced in November it plans to buy Fitbit for $7.25 per share in cash, valuing the company at $2.1 billion.

In August Fitbit signaled it was deepening its reach into healthcare with a new premium subscription service for users that offers coaching and personalized insights mined from the health data it collects from 27.3 million users. 

The company also is working with pharmaceutical giants Bristol-Myers Squibb and Pfizer to accelerate the detection and diagnosis of atrial fibrillation to reduce the risk of life-threatening events such as stroke. The collaboration will rely on Fitbit's afib detection software, which the tech giant plans to submit to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for regulatory review and approval, company executives said in October.

The wearables company also is working with Singapore’s Health Promotion Board on a population-based public health initiative. The program, called Live Healthy SG, will spur the city-state's residents to adopt fitness trackers to encourage healthier lifestyle habits.

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