Fitbit acquires healthcare coaching app Twine

By Laura Lovett
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This morning wearable giant Fitbit announced that it will be acquiring healthcare coaching platform Twine Health for an undisclosed sum. The acquisition takes Fitbit more solidly into the healthcare space than it has been up until now.

The Twine platform aims to help users manage chronic conditions like diabetes and hypertension by using artificial intelligence technology and creating a way for teams of providers coaches, and loved ones to collaborate on care plans. The app also aims to help aid lifestyle interventions like weight loss and smoking cessation. 

“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. 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,” James Park, cofounder and CEO of Fitbit, said in a statement. “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.”

The acquisition is expected to help Fitbit continue to enter the healthcare world and expand its offerings to health plans, health systems and self-insured employers, creating opportunities to increase subscription-based revenue, according to a statement. Eventually Fitbit plans on extending aspects of Twine's offerings to its 25 million device users, as well as expanding Twine into new disease areas.

In clinical trials the Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Twine Health has been proven to help patients decrease systolic blood pressure and help people with diabetes lower their HbA1C level. Most recently Twine Health announced that it will be teaming up with Newton-Wellesley Hospital in Massachusetts to create a new app-based initiative to try to keep patients from coming back to the cardiology department. 

However, last Spring Twine Health made a pivot in their coverage and focus on offering their services to employer populations instead of to health systems for their patients.

“It was not a sustainable business path,” Twine CEO John O. Moore told MobiHealthNews last May. “We were quite successful with a number of organizations at improving outcomes and decreasing costs and they did not have a desire to scale their implementations at all at that time. And it was mainly because they had challenges with getting it to mesh with their current business model. Their risk-based contracts are just not risky enough. They don’t have enough of an incentive to really do what, in parallel, we were seeing our workplace health providers do. So we said ‘there’s a dramatic difference in uptake here of Twine in these workplace health providers and ACOs, so we’re going to put all our effort into the workplace health providers’.”

This isn’t Fitbit’s only recent acquisition. In 2017 the company announced that it had acquired Vector, a Romanian startup that claims to have a smartwatch with a 30-day battery life. Though the sum was not announced at the time, the company’s quarterly report showed that it spent $15 million on the deal. 

In December of 2016 Fitbit confirmed that they were buying wearable company Pebble’s software IP and some personnel. That acquisition price was eventually revealed to be $23 million. In January, Fitbit announced that it would extend cloud support to Pebble customers for another six months and then cut it off. 

Twine Health’s team will join Fitbit as part of its Health Solution group. Dr. John O. Moore, Twine Health CEO and founder take over as the medical director at Fitbit. 

“We built Twine Health with the goal of putting people back at the center of their care, helping them take ownership of their health actions and outcomes with the continuous support of both clinicians and loved ones. Technology has a profound opportunity to facilitate this shift in behavior and give people the coaching they need to overcome the challenges that arise in daily life,” Moore said in a statement. “That potential becomes even more compelling when combined with Fitbit, whose brand and ability to engage and motivate a diverse range of consumers is incredibly powerful. Together, we can build a complete experience to optimize health at scale, across the full spectrum from prevention to disease management.”