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Why Google focuses its consumer health efforts on Fitbit

In terms of consumer health, Apple is one step ahead of Google in obtaining FDA approval for the atrial fibrillation function of Apple Watch. Add a feature for people to manage their health records. But after Acquired Fitbit for USD 2.1 billion, Google seems to be making this wearable device company the focus of its consumer health work.

Recently, the company reorganized its health business, transferring approximately 130 of its 700 employees to Fitbit and the search department. According to a report from Business Insider. According to reports, Fitbit will get some teams dedicated to health sensors and personal health records. The remaining Google Health employees will not focus on consumer technology, let Fitbit lead the work.

Analysts interviewed by MedCity News said that given the extensive coverage of its equipment and the progress of its health plans, it is not surprising that Google focuses its consumer health efforts on Fitbit.

“Most of Fitbit’s customers are consumers, which makes it important for both Google and Fitbit to focus,” Ramon Llamas, IDC’s head of mobile device research, wrote in an email.

But the company still faces huge challenges in elevating wearable devices from a good device to a device with clinical value.

Forrester vice president and chief analyst Julie Ask said: “If you look at what Apple is delivering, or what Samsung is delivering on these devices…healthcare or health is essential.”

Add to analysis, health
It is difficult to know all of Google’s plans for Fitbit.With Google’s Acquisition announcementGoogle’s senior vice president of devices and services said it will bring its software, hardware and artificial intelligence expertise.

At the scale of Google, Ask said that the technology giant is likely to be able to contribute some resources that Fitbit does not have.

She and Llamas speculate that most of the new features will be based on Fitbit’s health and wellness work and data collected by these devices.

Although Fitbit initially adopted a “walled garden” strategy, it may consider adding more health services that can be built on the wearable data collected by users.

“It’s about services you can build around insights,” Ask said. “You can measure my heart rate or detect arrhythmia, it’s not unique.”

Fitbit also helped fill a big hole in Google’s healthcare strategy. Although it has established some partnerships with smart watch manufacturers, most of them do not focus on health functions. Lamas said the company’s own health and fitness app, Google Fit, has not kept up.

“At the same time, Fitbit has helped develop some top-notch health and fitness apps. This seems to be a great fit for Google,” he wrote.

Of course, a big challenge for Fitbit and its competitors is to extend these features beyond health use cases. According to Forrester’s analysis, most wearable device users are wealthy and active at the beginning, which makes them less likely to reach people who need health the most.

Even with FDA-approved indications, most doctors still do not use data from the device in their practice.

“These are still mainly health devices,” Ask said. “Doctors have inconsistent trust in the data, and MD does not use the data on a daily basis. This is not the main factor that informs them of treatment decisions.

Google’s broader health strategy
This is not the first time Alphabet has changed its health work.Previously, DeepMind’s health team was merged into Google Health, and its other major healthcare projects, Verily, also joined The leadership was reorganized last year.

The company has tested various projects, from trial to Build consumer-oriented health record tools, attempt Build an artificial intelligence tool to screen for diabetic retinopathy. Not everyone is successful.

“It’s hard to know what Alphabet’s strategy is,” Ask said. “They are more likely to place a lot of different bets than Apple.”

For its part, Google shared some details about the reorganization. The company said in an email that it “convened some teams to combine expertise and focus our efforts on health and wellness.”

The remaining Google Health team will build products for clinicians, conduct research and ensure that all health-related projects of the company meet high standards.

Photo Credit: Fitbit

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