Fitbit CEO James Park: Wearables Are Vital for a Better Healthcare System
You want to change habits? Start by measuring them, according to Fitbit CEO James Park.
Fitbit, of course, is known for its ubiquitous, sensor-laden, rubber and leather wireless wristbands that monitor the steps, heart rate, and motion (among many other things) of the wearer. The company rose to prominence as the entire so-called “wearables” category took off in the 2010s—Fortune first wrote about the company in 2012—but since the restless day of its June 2015 IPO, it’s been a rough ride for Fitbit and its CEO.
Investors, it seems, aren’t keen on tech hardware companies. But health data companies? That’s a different story.
“Connected devices have an important part to play in the healthcare system,” Park told me at Fortune’s Brainstorm Health conference in March in Laguna Niguel, Calif.
That’s why Fitbit has worked to establish partnerships with companies like UnitedHealthcare, the largest health provider in the U.S., to reward employees who get moving with up to $1,500 per year—tracked, naturally, with a Fitbit device. Another pilot project, with medical device maker Dexcom, is working to evaluate whether exercise can serve as an alternative to medication when it comes to managing diabetes.
As for Fitbit itself, well, it’s not out of the woods just yet. “We’re starting to stabilize the business,” Park said. “We guided investors to 2018 being a break-even year from a cash-flow perspective.” The transformation from a consumer fitness firm to a B2B health company is ongoing.
“We’re still going to focus on consumers,” Park said. “But take what we develop there and create overall solutions for helping people manage different health conditions.”