There has been a lot of buzz recently around FitBits.Do they accurately track your heart rate or calories? Do they encourage users to be more active? Will they be able to provide improved monitoring of certain health conditions, like heart disease and diabetes? Regardless of your personal stance on FitBits, one thing is for sure — they’re making significant strides to become the leading wearable device for the world of telemedicine.
In 2015, FitBit not only sold 21.3 million wearable devices, but FitBit Wellness, also became HIPAA compliant. Providing significant opportunities for growth within the healthcare industry.
So what benefits can a device like the FitBit provide to the future of telemedicine and healthcare? Well, for starters, FitBit allows remote monitoring of movement, calories (consumed and burned), and sleep. And, with the new FitBit Aria WiFi Scale it can now track weight, BMI lean mass, and body fat percentage!
This data, in conjunction with a few software platforms, such as start-up Fruit Street, helps to provide physicians with real-time patient data that can directly impact recovery or general health. For example, studies have shown that movement after surgery promotes a quicker recovery. If a patient is wearing a FitBit, doctors can monitor how much movement a patient is completing. From there, they can email, video call or send alerts (enter telemedicine!) to the patient to encourage movement. Goals can be set for the patients as well — whether through steps or stairs climbed in a single day — and the patient may monitor this in real-time as well through their own FitBit app.
So what is the future for FitBits?
Although the jury is out on whether or not FitBit steps and heart rate monitoring provide accurate readings, the impact FitBit will have on the telemedicine world and healthcare has significant potential.
Unlike the resistance telemedicine providers have faced from healthcare professionals, FitBit has seen major growth. As of January 2016 there are over 29 million registered FitBit devices. And, it’s likely we will see this number continue to grow.
As more doctors and healthcare practices choose to embrace telemedicine, FitBits provide a real opportunity to provide doctors with real-time patient data that could help to improve overall patient health. Becoming HIPPA compliant and partnering with hospitals like Dana-Farber and the Mayo Clinic will also mean major strides for improving the telemedicine industry. Encouraging individuals on a day to day basis to be more active is not a bad thing either. Active people tend to be healthier, therefore preventing them from developing heart disease or diabetes.
FitBit has created a brand that has helped to define what a wearable is. The gamification aspects of the app, the “coolness” associated with wearing one, and the variety of devices has allowed FitBit to rise to the top.
Where do you see telemedicine and FitBits going? Do you think FitBits will have a significant impact on telemedicine adoption?