Fitbit Hold Talks With NHS About Fitness Tracker Scheme

The co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of Fitbit, James Park has announced in an interview with the Sunday Times that the company is currently holding talks with the NHS to integrate the wearable device with the National Health Service although no firm plans have yet been outlined. Fitbit currently has a similar deal in place with a health insurer in the US, United Healthcare. The deal with the $165 billion insurance giant allows their customers to save up to $1,500 per year on their insurance premiums if they allow data from the device to be monitored and consistently hit daily targets that are suggested by the wearable device. It's thought that the talks with the NHS may be centered around a similar sort of deal. The Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt said last year that the NHS would soon make "big moves" in the app and wearable device market - there is already an app library available which suggests helpful apps for NHS patients.

A recent report, "Wearable Health and Fitness Technology in US Medical Care" from the Consumers Technology Association (CTA), predicts a huge increase in the number of physicians that will rely on data from wearable devices such as Fitbits and predicts these numbers will reach "critical mass" by 2020. The report states that wearable devices will play an "integral part" in patient care by this time, with cash bonuses for reaching health targets and free devices also being offered as incentives by insurance companies.

It's thought that the discussions with the NHS are an attempt to boost Fitbit's flagging stock prices - the company has lost in total over 80% of its value since its IPO in 2015. In the first quarter of 2017 they undertook a $4 million reshuffle which saw 110 jobs (approximately 6%) of their global workforce cut. The San Francisco-based company have faced stiff competition in the wearables market in recent years, with low-cost rivals made in China, as well as the Apple Watch Series 2 all clamoring for a share of the market. Fitbit are expected to expand on this opportunity and work with more companies in the future, offering incentives and wellness programs for employees. Fitbit have also recently revealed that they are currently working on a new smartwatch, although the company haven't given away any details about the capabilities of the device, or when it is expected to be released.

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Alexa Ward

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