Fitbit, Humana Tackling Chronic Conditions with New Platform

Wearable-technology company Fitbit (NYSE: FIT) and insurance giant Humana Inc. (NYSE: HUM) are turning their partnership up a notch to better prevent and manage chronic conditions.

San Francisco-based Fitbit announced Wednesday that Louisville, Kentucky-based Humana has chosen the tech company’s new Fitbit Care platform as a preferred health coaching solution for more than 5 million of the insurer’s members. Fitbit Care, also rolled out on Wednesday, combines health coaching and virtual care with Fitbit’s wearable devices to deliver personalized interventions.

“With health care costs and rates of chronic disease increasing, there is a clear need for innovative tools and services to help people make the lifestyle and behavior changes necessary to reverse this trend,” Adam Pellegrini, general manager of Fitbit Health Solutions, said. “Expanding our partnership with Humana allows us to accelerate our common goal of helping more people get and stay healthy, and I’m confident that together we can help drive better health outcomes.”

Fitbit and Humana have been partners since 2013.

During that time, Humana has made substantial headway into the home-based care space, mainly through its industry-shaping acquisitions of Kindred at Home and Curo Health Services, both backed by private equity firms TPG Capital and Welsh, Carson, Anderson & Stowe as well.

It is unclear at this point how the newly announced partnership expansion would affect Humana’s plans for caring for members in their homes.

“Working with Fitbit, we have been able to provide our members with wearable devices, data and insights they can use to achieve their best health and wellness,” Humana Senior Vice President of Wellness Solutions Jeff Reid said. “By adding Fitbit Care’s new health coaching capabilities, we can offer even more personalized, meaningful support to our members who are focused on specific health goals, such as smoking cessation or weight loss, or the management or prevention of chronic conditions.”

The Fitbit Care platform is partially driven by the clinical expertise of Twine Health, a coaching platform that Fitbit acquired in February. Through the platform, coaches can work with users through multiple channels, such as in-app communications, phone and in-person meetings.

Up to 60% of American adults currently live with at least one chronic condition, according to a 2017 RAND study.

Perhaps even more striking, about one in every four Americans has multiple chronic conditions, those that last a year or more and require ongoing medical attention or that limit activities of daily living, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That number rises to three in four Americans aged 65 and older.

Several home health and home care providers have made chronic disease management a priority, especially as the U.S. health care systems begins to incentivize providers’ ability to prevent hospital re-admissions with value-based initiatives.

Fitbit’s rollout of Fitbit Care, along with its growing relationship with Humana, allows the company to keep pace with other wearable-tech competitors vying for spots as solutions within the continuum of care. Those competitors include Cupertino, California-based Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL) and its latest smartwatch device, capable of detecting falls and alerting emergency services.

Shares in Fitbit — which works with more than 100 health plans overall — were up 4.57% midday Wednesday following its announcement. The company’s health-solutions business is currently a small portion of its overall revenue, according to MarketWatch.

Written by Robert Holly

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Robert Holly
When Robert's not covering the latest in home health care news, you can likely find him rooting for the White Sox or roaming his neighborhood streets playing Pokemon Go. Before joining HHCN, Robert covered everything from big agribusiness to the hottest tech startups. 

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