Fitness “wearables,” or wearable health technology, continue to take the world by storm as brands like Fitbit, Garmin, Xiaomi, and Misfit present more features available to their wearers. What used to be just basic step-counters are now 24/6 wellness devices that can monitor heartbeat, track sports, and even report on sleep patterns.
Although already a valuable resource, Fitbit is about to up the ante by partnering with Google’s Cloud for Healthcare. This partnership which will not only allow the fitness bands to record data, but then pass on that health data to doctors. The doctors can use that data to compare electronic records to real-time health data.
While a fitness band won’t replace the need for an in-person visit, it could alert doctors to potential problems from early on. And, in time, these advancements could reduce the number of doctor’s appointments needed to remain healthy, which could impact millions of families across the United States.
– the most recent iterations of the device can tell if the wearer suffers from hypertension or even sleep apnea, because of the advanced heart rate sensors. Stanford Medicine is also conducting studies on whether or not the Apple Watch can monitor irregular heartbeats, which could prove an invaluable resource, given atrial fibrillation (AFib) is the number one cause of strokes. When paired with AI, heart rate app-maker Cardiogram was able to detect arrhythmia 97% of the time in current studies.
Fitbit’s foray into the Google sphere of influence isn’t the first time they have partnered with an outside company, and nor will it be their last. Recently, Fitbit acquired Twine Health, which features a health coaching platform designed to help manage chronic conditions like diabetes or hypertension. Subscriptions to services such as Twine Health’s coaching platform could bring in additional revenue for Fitbit, and exacerbate the company’s venture into the healthcare industry.
Additionally, as the most popular fitness band available, as well as most extensive in terms of metrics, the Scripps Translational Science Institute chose Fitbit’s wearable technology to take part in the All of Us project. Backed by the NIH, researchers hope this pilot program will accelerate research and improve health.
The study will take place over the course of one year, and will grant researchers access to comprehensive data rather than a brief snapshot made available from a doctor’s appointment.
Regardless of the brand of wearable you own, it’s clear that fitness bands are here to stay, and will only become more integrated in time.