Fitbit buys startup Twine Health as it ramps up interest in serious healthcare

The service targets hypertension and diabetes
Fitbit snaps up healthcare startup Twine
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Fitbit has announced it is acquiring startup Twine Health, a service built for helping people who suffer from chronic conditions including hypertension and diabetes - conditions that Fitbit has expressed interest in on numerous occasions.

Twine Health, an MIT Media Lab spinout, is used by employers to manage people in their workforce suffering from such conditions, but it sounds like Fitbit has longer-term plans to scale Twine's platform to all its customers, building a better relationship between patients and their doctors.

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"Together, we can build a complete experience to optimize health at scale, across the full spectrum from prevention to disease management," said Fitbit CEO James Park.

The move allows Fitbit to move beyond devices in the healthcare world, Park said at a Startup Grind Q&A. Twine Health uses a combination of AI-powered insights and personal care to provide a coaching platform for patients. That human touch is especially exciting.

"While there is a lot of talk and hype about AI and bots and etc, one of the biggest drivers of behavior change is actually still having a human in the mix," Park said. "People do feel more accountable when having a real person be alongside them in their health journey."

The acquisition shows Fitbit continual expansion into more serious healthcare, and the company says it plans to expand into new condition areas in the future. Even before looking to the wider possibilities of this buy, there's an obvious win for Fitbit in targeting employers who want to reduce wellness costs.

The acquisition is set to be done in Q1 2018, though the exact numbers haven't been revealed. Twine CEO John Moore will become Fitbit's medical director and the Twine Health team will come aboard Fitbit's Health Solutions group.

Fitbit recently invested $6 million in Sano, creator of a discreet glucose tracking patch, and has partnered with Dexcom to integrate its glucose monitoring products with Fitbit's own.

Fitbit buys Twine