- Fitbit has announced the launch of Fitbit Ace, a new wearable for kids.
- Designed for children ages 8 and older, Ace features customizable step, active minute and sleep goals as well as incentives like badges and congratulatory messages and challenges for kids and their families.
- Parents can control who their children connect with and what information they view on the device.
Ace underscores Fitbit’s vision of a world where wearables are the norm. During HLTH 2018 last month, Fitbit CEO and co-founder James Park said the company wants to make wearables a “must have” for consumers of all stripes. Starting kids early using wearables and tracking health data supports this goal.
The news comes as sales of Fitbits have been in decline. In 2017, the company’s revenue fell 25% to $1.62 billion, from $2.17 billion the prior year. Fitbit shares jumped nearly 15% on Monday, following the announcement of Ace.
Fitbit has been slowly gravitating to the clinical side from its origins as a fitness tracker. Last month, Fitbit stepped up its presence in the healthcare space with new health apps and clock faces to help users manage conditions like diabetes and certain cancers.
The company recently partnered with Google to include patient-generated data in health records. The initiative will combine Google Cloud’s Healthcare API with Fitbit’s recently acquired Twine Health platform to connect user data and EHRs so doctors can customize care to a patient’s needs.
A recent Accenture survey found growing consumer acceptance of virtual medical visits and digital health services as part of their healthcare experience. One in five respondents said they have used artificial intelligence-enabled healthcare services and most said they anticipate using them in the future. And 33% reported using wearables, up from just 9% in 2014. Of those, about three-fourths said wearables help them better manage their health or that of a loved one.
Meanwhile, the jury is still out on whether wearables really improve clinical outcomes. For example, in a study last year in JAMA Internal Medicine, patients randomized to a system of medication reminders, financial incentives and social support did not have better outcomes following a heart attack, compared with those who received usual care.
That doesn't mean companies won't continue to innovate in the space and that clinical outcomes will never be impacted by such tools. Healthcare has only recently been digitized thanks to the uptake of electronic tools such as EHRs and wearables. As evidence mounts, researchers, providers and patients will begin to realize the efficiencies of these new digital health tools, if efficiencies do indeed exist.