Fitbit pushes into employee health care and coaching with Twine Health acquisition

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Global wearables juggernaut Fitbit has announced plans to acquire Twine Health, a health coaching platform aimed at helping employers manage chronic disease in the workforce. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Founded out of Cambridge, Massachusetts, in 2014, Twine Health is a cloud-based platform that connects clinicians with patients to work together to create plans and collaborate through synchronized apps toward reaching the designated goals. It’s also designed to help employers cut down on their in-house health care costs.

Above: Twine Health

Twine Health had raised around $10 million in equity funding, so it’s unlikely this acquisition would’ve broken the bank for Fitbit. However, the move signals Fitbit’s continued push into the corporate wellness market, which it has been targeting through various initiatives in recent years.

Fitbit may be better known as a consumer technology brand, but it has long partnered with big businesses including BP, Barclays, and Target, which have sought to encourage employee fitness by doling out activity trackers to employees for free. This has been underpinned by online competitions and gamification which have served as core tenets of companies’ health-promotion programs.

Fitbit has made around five acquisitions before now, and one of those was a startup called Switch2Health, which developed a wellness platform for tracking and rewarding activities of employees. So it’s clear that Fitbit has seen the potential of the business market for some time, and this latest deal fits into that scheme.

“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 U.S. alone,” noted Fitbit cofounder and CEO James Park. “When combined with our decade-plus of experience empowering millions of consumers to take control of their health and wellness, we believe we can help build stronger connections between people and their care teams by removing some of the most difficult barriers to behavior change.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), up to $2.5 trillion is spent on chronic disease care in the U.S. each year. Indeed, 40 percent of U.S. adults are considered obese, while more than 70 percent are overweight. Additionally, 10 percent of the U.S. population (29.1 million people) have diabetes, and more than a third (86 million people) are on their way to developing diabetes. And it’s against this backdrop that Fitbit is looking to merge its established presence in the fitness realm with that of an established corporate wellness platform.

Indeed, Fitbit said that the deal lays the foundation to expand into employer health plans, while giving it significant leverage to increase its subscription-based revenue. Looking further into the future, Fitbit said that it also plans to cross-sell Twine Health’s benefits to its existing users as it looks to “expand into new condition areas,” according to a press release.

“Together, we can help healthcare providers better support patients beyond the walls of the clinical environment, which can lead to better health outcomes and ultimately, lower medical costs,” added Park.

The acquisition is expected to close in Q1 2018.

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