Insight Bite: Fitbit buys Twine Health as wearables company gets serious about healthcare

Fitbit, maker of the popular health tracking wristband, has acquired Twine Health, a collaborative software platform aimed at workplace wellness providers. The deal value was not disclosed, but Twine has raised almost $10 million in funding since starting in 2014.

Twine tracks chronic illnesses and connects patients with doctors and health coaches, in an effort to help them make plans and set goals. Twine has also been working on solutions for a number of more serious health conditions such as sleep apnea.

“Twine Health has delivered powerful results for patients managing conditions like diabetes and hypertension – two key focus areas for Fitbit, which together affect approximately 105 million people in the US alone,” said James Park, co-founder and CEO of Fitbit.

The wearables market has struggled to maintain growth, in part because it’s proven tricky to get people to keep wearing the devices without delivering more obvious benefits than step counting and sleep tracking. This deal can be seen as a response to this problem, as it suggests Fitbit is serious about following its competitor Apple, as it pushes ahead in the personal health tech race. Apple has been working on using its technology to track a number of issues such as heart rates and blood sugar.

There are a lot of challenges ahead for the healthcare wearables players, but the potential benefits for the winners are significant. As much as $2.5 trillion is spent on chronic disease care in the US every year. Not everyone will get it right, but we expect to see plenty of deal activity as the contenders push forward.

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