Fitbit to Use Google's Cloud Healthcare API to Track Health Data

Fitbit's wearables are about to get a lot smarter. The company today said it is collaborating with Google to push health data generated by its fitness trackers to the cloud where medical professionals can put it to work.

Fitness trackers monitor and collect reams of data, but that data not always used effectively. People who strap Fitbits, smartwatches, and other devices to their wrists are often limited to viewing their data in consumer-grade apps that deliver only modest detail on activity, movement, and general health.

Fitbit has sold some 76 million devices and has an active user base of 25 million. Its database is enormous. That's why Fitbit and Google want to bring healthcare providers into the loop.

The companies claim that combining Fitbit's tracker data with online electronic medical records can give patients and their healthcare providers a more detailed look at health trends, which may lead to more personalized care.

Fitbit and Google are exploring how to use this information to develop new and more informative consumer and enterprise health solutions. In order to do this, Fitbit will use Google's Cloud Healthcare API, announced in March, to help it connect user data with electronic medical records. Fitbit and Google also plan to examine how they can use the data to help people manage chronic conditions such as diabetes and hypertension.

"Working with Google gives [Fitbit] an opportunity to transform how we scale our business, allowing us to reach more people around the world faster, while also enhancing the experience we offer to our users and the healthcare system," said James Park, co-founder and CEO of Fitbit.

The Cloud Healthcare API ties together a number of different data types. It provides a central way to port and control DICOM (Digital Imaging and Communications in Medicine), FHIR (Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources), and HL7 v2 (Health Level Seven International) information. Fitbit will use the API to ensure that its data is safely transferred to Google's cloud. Fitbit is one of the fist to be given access to the fledgling API from Google, which is still in the early stages of testing.

"At Google, our vision is to transform the way health information is organized and made useful,” said Gregory Moore MD, PhD, VP of Healthcare, Google Cloud. “By enabling Fitbit to connect and manage key health and fitness data using our Google Cloud Healthcare API, we are getting one step closer to this goal. Together, we have the opportunity to deliver up-to-date information to providers, enhancing their ability to follow and manage the health of their patients and guide their treatment."

Beyond adopting the Cloud Healthcare API, Fitbit says it will move to the Google Cloud Platform. There, it hopes Google's Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence will analyze its data in a meaningful way and eventually help advance its products, services, and scalability. The API and Cloud Platform are HIPAA compliant.

Last, the two say they'll put their heads together to "innovate and transform the future of wearables." Google's own Anroid Wear platform hasn't exactly set the world of smartwatches on fire, so it's hard to predict what the two companies might accomplish together.

Be sure to read the next Healthcare article: US Digital Service Launches v2 of Blue Button API to Ease Flow of Medicare Data