Fitbit snaps up workplace wellness health coaching business Twine Health

Stephanie Baum

Fitbit made another step towards deepening its healthcare footprint with the acquisition of MIT Media Lab spinout Twine Health, according to a company news release. Under the terms of the deal, the wearables will integrate Twine Health staff into its Health Solutions Group and make Cofounder and CEO John Moore Fitbit’s Medical Director

Note: This story has been updated with comments from Adam Pellegrini, Fitbit General Manager, and Twine Health CEO John Moore.

Adam Pellegrini, Fitbit General Manager, said the Twine Health deal gives Fitbit what it had been missing to help fulfill its healthcare ambitions: a collaborative care platform — the ability to help customers to share personal health data with clinicians.

“Since I joined and before, we have been building out a healthcare strategy… But we needed a healthcare platform that could connect to electronic health records and other platforms…Collaborative care is the future.”

Moore added: “The thing that Twine Health did from the beginning was we focused on clinical research and outcomes first. We methodically validated our approach through trials and proved outcomes,” he said. “But one thing we struggled with was providing the best, integrated experience.” He noted that Fitbit offered that and shared the company’s vision.

Twine Health has raised $8.3 million since it was founded in 2013. Among its investors are Khosla Ventures, Provenance Venture Forum, Qiming Venture Partners, and Tower Capital Partners. Although the company once had a broad target audience that included accountable care organizations, it turned the focus of its health coaching program to companies adopting workplace wellness programs.

The Boston-based company’s program revolves around employees who participate in annual biometric screenings for hypertension, obesity, diabetes and back pain. Program participants work with assigned coaches on goals that matter to them. They use connected devices to track their progress to improve how they manage their health through texting and video interaction.

One example of how Twine Health has quantified its work is a hypertension program it did with University of Pennsylvania Health System employees. It led to 90 percent of participants getting mismanaged hypertension under control in 90 days and they continued to successfully manage it one year later, according to the company.

With an eye to how Twine Health will be integrated into Fitbit, the cofounder and CEO of the wearables business James Park said in the release that Fitbit would extend the benefits of the Twine platform to its users and expand into new condition areas. One example of Fitbit’s interest in using its wearables to help users manage chronic conditions is its partnerships with Medtronic and Dexcom.

Fitbit has spent the past few years building up its corporate wellness business Group Health. Last year, on an earnings call with analysts, Park noted that Fitbit Group Health is critical to the growth of the company. In November, Park hinted that a deal with a company like Twine Health was in the works when he said the larger healthcare opportunity for Fitbit beyond medtech partnerships might come with programming and coaching accompanying the data to guide users.

Fitbit snaps up workplace wellness health coaching business Twine Health