Proving the Business Case for the Internet of Things

Fitbit and Solera Health tackle type-two diabetes

Steve Rogerson
March 9, 2019



Arizona-based integrated benefit network Solera Health hopes to reduce the risk of type-two diabetes by using the Fitbit platform to encourage positive behaviour changes, such as increased physical activity and weight loss.
 
Based on an analysis of more than 1700 people who enrolled in the US Diabetes Prevention Programme (DPP) through the Solera network, Solera found that participants who redeemed a Fitbit device were more active and lost more weight during the programme than those who did not. Now, the companies are making the latest Fitbit devices, Fitbit Inspire and Inspire HR, available to all Solera DPP participants, including Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries.
 
Inspire and Inspire HR are two of four products launched by Fitbit this month, the other two being the Versa Lite Edition and the Ace 2, all designed to help make health and fitness affordable by more consumers. Fitbit is also planning a major redesign to its app so users can further personalise their dashboard, better understand their data, discover new content and more easily connect with others on Fitbit’s social community.
 
Type-two diabetes affects more than 30 million American adults and costs the USA approximately $327bn annually in direct medical expenses and lost productivity. Yet, the onset of disease can be delayed or even prevented among the 84 million US adults at high risk for developing type two diabetes.
 
Research has shown that people with pre-diabetes who lost five per cent of their body weight through healthier eating and 150 minutes of activity per week halve their risk of developing type two diabetes. This intervention strategy is the foundation of the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention’s national DPP, which is now a covered preventive service for all Medicare beneficiaries.
 
Solera brings a proven business model to the partnership with Fitbit for scale and personalisation. Solera contracts with health plans and employers to match individuals with the best-fit digital or community-based DPP that meets each person’s needs and preferences. To date, Solera has enrolled over 100,000 people in the national DPP through its network model.
 
“At Fitbit, we have spent the last 12 years empowering people to live healthier lives, and we believe that a proactive approach is essential to the prevention and management of type-two diabetes,” said Adam Pellegrini, general manager at Fitbit. “We are focused on addressing some of the most common and costly conditions in healthcare, and diabetes is a top priority. Through our work with Solera over the past two years, we have shown that Solera’s model, based on proven health outcomes, coupled with our innovative devices, motivating platform and proven behaviour change principles, is an effective combination for preventing type-two diabetes.”
 
Beginning in 2017, Solera began offering Fitbit devices to individuals who used Solera to enrol in community-based or digital DPPs. Solera conducted an analysis of more than 1700 people who enrolled between January 1 and March 31, 2017.
 
At the one-year mark, DPP participants who redeemed a Fitbit device lost a larger percentage of their starting weight than non-Fitbit participants (-3.38 versus -2.27%) and were much more likely to achieve the five per cent weight loss milestone compared with those who did not (51 versus 36%).
 
By weeks ten to 16, DPP participants who redeemed a Fitbit device reported an extra 60 minutes of weekly activity compared with non-Fitbit participants and continued to report at least 45 minutes more weekly activity through the maintenance phase of the programme in months six to 12.
 
Participants age 60 to 69 years old were more likely than any other age group included in the analysis to redeem a Fitbit device through the programme, which is significant given that 61% of all healthcare costs attributed to diabetes care are for people over age 65.
 
The analysis shows that Fitbit devices can play a meaningful role in improving health outcomes for participants in DPPs. Based on the success of the partnership to date, Fitbit and Solera are exploring additional opportunities to scale their collaboration in 2019, including offering Fitbit’s latest activity trackers – Inspire and Inspire HR – to Solera’s DPP participants.
 
“Solera is thrilled to enter a strategic partnership with Fitbit as there are many market synergies between what the two companies are doing to improve the health of those at risk for type-two diabetes,” said Brenda Schmidt, CEO of Solera Health. “Our unique ability to connect individuals with the best-fit DPP to meet their needs and preferences, paired with Fitbit’s easy-to-use wearable devices, has the potential to significantly alter how populations approach chronic disease prevention and management. We look forward to scaling this partnership further in order to help future programme participants maintain and improve their health.”
 
Inspire and Inspire HR were designed for and made available first to health plans, employers and health systems. They meet the specific needs of the healthcare industry with a sleek, easy-to-use tracker form factor, core health and fitness features, cross-platform compatibility, up to five days battery life and the software and social experience that motivate users at an approachable price point.
 
The devices are available to plan members and employees of Fitbit Health partners and customers, including Humana, Adobe and Domino’s.