Fitbit and Google Team Up to Make It Easier For Doctors to Access Wearable Data

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Google launches a new API that aims to address interoperability challenges within the healthcare industry. Fitbit is switching to Google’s Cloud Healthcare API to make user data more accessible by doctors.

Fitbit Teams with Google’s Cloud Healthcare API Infrastructure for Sharing Health Data

Fitbit announced this week that it will be using Google’s new Cloud Healthcare API to make it easier for doctors and healthcare providers to access wearable data. Through this collaboration, Fitbit can connect user data with electronic medical records. Notably, Fitbit (NYSE: FIT) stock skyrocketed by  10 percent on Monday following the company announcement of a health-care collaboration with Alphabet’s Google.

The wearable fitness tracking device has long been associated with tracking fitness and physical activity. However, the Fitbit device is also increasingly being used as a useful tool within the medical industry.

Clinicians are able to gain powerful insights into the health of their patients through a range of data, including tracking steps walked, physical activity, heart rate, sleep, weight, and more. Doctors and healthcare providers can use data gleaned from a patient’s Fitbit device to provide improved remote care monitoring, particularly in tracking post-surgical ambulation.

What Is Google Cloud Healthcare API?

The Google Cloud Platform (GCP) Healthcare API is a tool intended to provide doctors and healthcare professionals the ability to collect and manage medical data and launch machine-learning projects in the cloud.

Healthcare providers are also able to run analytics from the clinical data gleaned from various aggregated medical and clinical systems. Connecting user data with electronic medical records can provide doctors and clinicians with a more comprehensive overview of the patient profile, which could then lead to providing more personalized levels of care. The information received could be the key to identifying certain patterns, which could then be used to help improve patient outcomes.

The adoption of machine learning should also allow the medical industry to unlock insights that could lead to clinical improvements for patients. Machine learning is already being used by some medical professionals to identify at-risk patients and to support clinical decision-making.

Dr. Gregory Moore MD, PhD, Vice President of Healthcare at Google Cloud said in a post published on the Google Cloud blog: “Our goal with the Cloud Healthcare API is to help transform the healthcare industry through the use of cloud technologies and machine learning.”

Google is already providing services to several major healthcare customers, including the Cleveland Clinic, Lahey Health, M*Modal, Middlesex Hospital and Chapters Health System and the Rush University Medical Center.

Partnering with Healthcare Applications

Fitbit co-founders, James Park and Eric Friedman came up with the idea for their health and fitness product in 2007. Since that time, the San Francisco-based Fitbit has inspired people all over the world to live a healthier, more active life.

In press statement, Fitbit CEO James Park said: “This collaboration will accelerate the pace of innovation to define the next generation of healthcare and wearables.”

Google’s VP of Healthcare for Google Cloud, Dr. Moore said: “At Google, our vision is to transform the way health information is organized and made useful. By enabling Fitbit to connect and manage key health and fitness data using our Google Cloud Healthcare API, we are getting one step closer to this goal. Together, we have the opportunity to deliver up-to-date information to providers, enhancing their ability to follow and manage the health of their patients and guide their treatment. “

As of October 2017, more than 6.8 million Fitbit users connected their data to various health programs through employers, insurers or health systems. Fitbit’s ability to contribute data to the Google Cloud Healthcare API provides plenty of additional data to work with, especially since the data can be connected to electronic medical records.

Fitbit also recently acquired Twine Health, a service designed to help manage chronic conditions such as hypertension and diabetes. Twine Health will also be a part of Fitbit’s collaboration with Google and will make it easier for clinicians and patients to collaborate on care, as well as lead to improved health outcomes.

Google is currently partnered with the Stanford School of Medicine and is also working closely with other partners in the work they do with healthcare customers. One such partner includes Flex’s BrightInsight, which aggregates data to deliver real-time intelligence of connected drug, medical device or combination products.

Google is also partnered with Augmedix, working closely with Sutter Health in an effort to reduce the amount of time doctors spend on administrative tasks, and with Imagia to help transform the way researchers are able to investigate disease characterization, progression, and treatment responses.

At the time of publishing, we haven’t heard back from Fitbit. If new information is provided, we will update the article accordingly.

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