Smartwatch Rolls Out New Female Health Tracking Feature

APRIL 12, 2018
Fitbit has been around for quite some time, and it's always nice to keep up with new changes, and additions to the platform. For a company that started out strictly making hardware, they have definitely done a lot to transition into a digital health company over the past few years.
 
So, let's recap on Fitbit. I rate this company the equivalent of the genetic test companies—highly popular around the holidays, but lasting effect is marginal, depending on the end user. If the genetic test turns something up, then further steps are warranted, if not, then it turns into an exciting conversation piece. Indeed, I used to feel that way about the Fitbit, Misfit, Garmin, Nike Fuel Band, and others that have disappeared from the market. More often than not, people would get them, be fascinated in wearing them, adding friends or colleagues to compare their workouts, and then fade away after a few months, left uncharged, and then relegated towards the tech drawer that seems to be ubiquitous in most households these days, surrounded by older versions of smartphones. 
 
But, it's not all negative. I truly feel that there is a sustainable market for users of Fitbit, and the company is genuinely trying to adapt beyond just creating, and selling hardware. Because at the end of the day, the hardware itself isn't going to make all the money, so there needs to be other end utilization of the data collected, and proved actionable to its consumers. In this case, 1 thing that has been pointed out as lacking, for many users, have been functions focused on women's health.
 
Arguably, that was a limited feature to roll out with on most of the Fitbit devices in the market, but 2 years ago, the company acquired Pebble, a startup smartwatch company that succeeded well on Kickstarter. This is a big change for a company that initially just built devices worn on the hip or wrist. Now they have released the "Fitbit Ionic" (2017) and "Fitbit Versa" (2018), which are a new line of smartwatches. Now, Fitbit did have other smartwatches it had released as early back as 2014, but this new line has an operating system allowing it to use apps similar to an Apple Watch. For that reason, now apps are available, and expansion to different datasets are ready to be used, including women's health.
 
So what is new with the women's health component? Some highlights include:
  • In-App Period Tracking—essentially track personal history, and, with enough data, predict future menstrual cycles, and receive alerts.
  • Smartwatch Display—receive alerts via the smartwatch, related to data collected from the app and activity.
  • Community integration—similar to currently available processes, users will be able to chat, and share with others.
Fitbit envisions these features will be attractive to women as a means to create a better knowledge set of their own health, and wellbeing; lead to better appointments with their health providers by having data to present, and discuss; get better insights on actions to take with their own health, and innovating in a space that has had relatively little impression in the past. 
 
It is a novel take, which features into Fitbit's current business model as a health and wellness company. Arguably, the company sees a future in using its data to guide wellness in companies, and help insurance companies supply nudges for potentially complicated patients. Now that is a conversation that has been fraught for years, and some insurance companies have offered monetary rewards for users to use these devices. We also see it with other companies providing Apple Watches to their members. But, in this case, what would happen if an insurance company or employer becomes aware a patient is pregnant or is actively trying to become pregnant from this data? That is a question I suspect we'll hear about more shortly. There are other companies that supply similar feature that Fitbit is rolling out, though the difference is the level to which that data is shared ultimately.


Reference

One of your most requested features is here! Introducing female health tracking. Fitbit News website. March 13, 2018. https://blog.fitbit.com/female-health-tracking/. Accessed April 12, 2018.


Timothy Aungst, PharmD
Timothy Aungst, PharmD
Timothy Dy Aungst, PharmD, is an associate professor of pharmacy practice at MCPHS University. He graduated from Wilkes University Nesbitt School of Pharmacy and completed a PGY-1 Pharmacy Practice Residency at St. Luke's University Hospital, and then a Clinical Geriatric Fellowship at MCPHS University. He is passionate about the rise of technology in health care and its application to pharmacy. He has published primarily on the role of mobile technology and mHealth, and made multiple national and international presentations on those topics. He blogs at TheDigitalApothecary.com, and you can find him on Twitter @TDAungst.
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