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Fitbit’s Health Alliance With Google Could Be a Risky Experiment | Health

Fitbit and Google on Monday introduced a brand new partnership on healthcare. Fitbit will develop shopper and enterprise well being options that may use Google’s new Cloud Healthcare software programming interface.

Fitbit additionally will transfer to the Google Cloud Platform to innovate and advance its services and products.

Most Google Cloud merchandise assist HIPAA compliance; the transfer will permit Fitbit to leverage Google Cloud’s infrastructure and safety features, in addition to Google’s synthetic intelligence and machine studying capabilities, and its new predictive analytic algorithms.

One doable use is connecting person information with digital medical information, or EMRs, to supply each sufferers and healthcare professionals with a extra complete view of a affected person’s profile, which might facilitate extra customized care.

Another doable use helps higher handle persistent circumstances equivalent to diabetes and hypertension by utilizing companies equivalent to Fitbit’s Twine Health — the well being teaching platform developed by Twine, which was acquired by Fitbit in February. Twine will let healthcare professionals and sufferers extra simply collaborate utilizing Google’s Cloud Healthcare API.

Fitbit pledged to take care of its dedication to defending shopper information.

Google Cloud and Healthcare

The Google Cloud Healthcare API makes use of normal schema to simplify taking in and storing healthcare information, stated Joe Corkery, Google Cloud’s head of product healthcare and life sciences.

It then gives connectors to Google Cloud’s analytics, equivalent to BigQuery, and machine studying, equivalent to Cloud ML Engine, he instructed TechNewsWorld.

There are a number of parts important to creating healthcare a profitable providing, based on Ray Wang, principal analyst at Constellation Research.

One of these parts is huge seize of shopper information, which “is where Fitbit comes in,” he instructed TechNewsWorld.

Another is huge cloud operations to crunch synthetic intelligence, Wang stated, noting that “this is where Google’s compute power and AI skills and team come into play.”

Integration to EMRs is also a vital part, he stated, because it “helps with bringing the devices — IoT data — and patient records into one place and makes it easy to monetize with insurance in the future.”

In a nutshell, the present state of EMRs is “sh*tty,” Wang stated.

The Fitbit-Google Cloud partnership “is mostly upside,” as a result of “players like Epic have destroyed the market with a monopoly on legacy tech,” he continued.

“It costs (US)$250,000 for a hospital to add a button on Epic; they’ve destroyed innovation in the market and enslaved the physicians,” Wang noticed.

Still, EMR adoption has been on the rise, as each medical insurance suppliers and the United States government have been insisting on them, remarked Michael Jude, analysis supervisor at Stratecast/Frost & Sullivan.

Partnership Pros and Cons

“There are two drawbacks to this deal,” urged Ian Campbell, CEO of Nucleus Research.

“One, Fitbit customers will have privacy concerns, and partnering with Google increases the anxiety around that,” he instructed TechNewsWorld.

“Two, Google’s history with wearables isn’t exactly positive. For example, Google Glass is now the poster child for creative ideas that never translated into a good, or even viable, product,” Campbell stated.

“Fitbit’s challenge is to overcome today’s cloud privacy concerns beyond HIPAA, especially after the recent uproar around Facebook,” he identified. “A lot of very private information goes into the cloud, and it isn’t always clear how anonymously this data is preserved.”

However, Google Cloud doesn’t have entry to person information collected by Fitbit or saved within the Cloud Healthcare API, Google’s Corkery stated. “Data brought to Google Cloud by its customers and partners is controlled by [them] and is not used for any other purposes. Security, privacy and compliance are of the highest priority to Google Cloud.”

Healthcare “is a touchy subject and the opposite of health is, potentially, death,” Frost’s Jude instructed TechNewsWorld. “Once you realize that, you’ll realize that personal portable telemetry is a really bad idea. That’s why the Apple Watch abandoned its health monitoring apps prior to its release.”

What if the telemetry is not excellent? Jude requested. “If a sensor fails to register a life threatening condition and someone dies who’s responsible? This is a morass… Fitbit and Google may live to regret this partnership.”



Richard Adhikari has been an ECT News Network reporter since 2008. His areas of focus embrace cybersecurity, cellular applied sciences, CRM, databases, software program growth, mainframe and mid-range computing, and software growth. He has written and edited for quite a few publications, together with Information Week and Computerworld. He is the creator of two books on shopper/server know-how.
Email Richard.




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