Wearables Brands Fight for Healthcare Space

June 23, 2020 | Eric D. Fader | COVID-19 | Electronic Health Records | Employer/Employee | Legislation and Public Policy | Medical Devices and Wearables | Telehealth

Manufacturers of activity trackers and smartwatches have been fighting over the “serious” healthcare market for several years. Companies such as Apple (previously discussed here), Fitbit (previously discussed here), and Garmin (previously discussed here) have all announced research partnerships with academic and clinical institutions to expand their businesses from the “exercise and fitness” market into healthcare research, consumer-driven health records storage, and chronic care management of conditions like diabetes, hypertension and sleep apnea.

This month, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released guidance under which the electrocardiogram (ECG) app on Apple Watch, and similar devices, will benefit from the FDA’s desire to encourage patients’ use of non-invasive remote monitoring devices during the COVID-19 pandemic. Apple’s ECG app, which received FDA clearance as a medical device in 2018, allows patients to send ECG waveform recordings as PDFs to their health providers and perhaps avoid in-person office or clinic visits.

Meanwhile, Fitbit’s Health Solutions division has introduced a tool called “Ready for Work” that aims to help employees determine whether they have symptoms of COVID-19 before they return to their workplaces. The tool’s daily check-in feature compiles key health metrics from a Fitbit user’s device, including resting heart rate and breathing rate, plus self-reported symptoms and information about possible exposure to the coronavirus. In addition to providing guidance to the user on whether to go to work, employers receive daily reports and analytics that allow them to monitor and assess workplace health and safety.

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