Wearables player Fitbit outlined plans to use Google’s Cloud Healthcare API to funnel data from its fitness trackers into the healthcare system.
The company said the partnership will allow data from users’ devices to be connected to their electronic medical records, giving doctors a more comprehensive view of patient health. Fitbit also detailed ambitions to help users manage chronic conditions, such as diabetes and hypertension, by combining Google’s capabilities with those of its recent acquisition, Twine Health.
In February, Fitbit cast the Twine acquisition as part of a play to extend its offerings to health plans and insurers, and create more revenue opportunities.
By moving its efforts onto Google’s Cloud Platform, Fitbit CEO James Parker claimed the company will be able to scale even faster to reach more users around the globe and “accelerate the pace of innovation to define the next generation of healthcare and wearables”.
Analyst house Juniper Research said the deal will enable “easier integration for Fitbit’s system into EMRs [Electronic Medical Records], partially solving a data storage problem for Fitbit.”
However, Radio Free Mobile’s Dr Richard Windsor was more damning in his analysis. “While this will help Fitbit in the short-term, it effectively marks the end of any ecosystem ambitions that Fitbit might have had and is exactly what it tried so hard to avoid when it declined to use Apple’s HealthKit API,” he wrote in a research note. “The net result is that Fitbit goes from being a potential aggregator of wellness information to merely a provider of data that will then be aggregated and understood by Google rather than Fitbit.”
Indeed, Windsor suggest the move could result in the value of Fitbit’s offering falling to the extent that the wearables company could become “a tuck-in acquisition for Google, if and when it becomes so commoditised that it struggles to make ends meet.”
Fitbit in January said its active user base surpassed 25 million in 2017.