Fitbit's moving away from a simple step counter into health coaching as it faces competition from the Apple Watch

Business Insider US

(Getty Images)

  • Fitbit has a plan to help it stay relevant as it faces more competition from companies like Apple and Garmin. 
  • It's launching Fitbit Care, a health platform that combines coaching, virtual care, wearable devices, and self-tracking to help employers' and health plans' employees and members get healthier. 
  • For now, the programme is just for consumers whose employers, health plans, or health systems opt into it. 

Fitbit is making a move to become more than just a fitness device at a time when wearable competition is fierce. 

The company on Wednesday announced the launch of Fitbit Care, a health platform that combines coaching, virtual care, wearable devices, and self-tracking.

Best known for its simple fitness band aimed at getting people moving, Fitbit is developing new products as its stock price has taken a tumble amid competition from companies like Apple.  

After Apple debuted its new watch, which includes features like new heart-rate tracking and fall detection, shares of Fitbit fell earlier in September as much as 6%. 

Here's how Fitbit Care works: The platform encompasses Fitbit's wearable band, which tracks sleep habits, activity, heart rate, and female health. Then, through a new Fitbit Plus app used on a smartphone users can get health coaching sessions and virtual care to help them reach a particular health goal, such as lowering blood pressure. 

For now, the program is just for people whose employers, health plans, or health systems opt into it and pay Fitbit on a per member per month basis. That means individual people can't sign up to use the programme on their own, at least for now. 

"With healthcare costs and rates of chronic disease increasing, there is a clear need for innovative tools and services to help people make the lifestyle and behaviour changes necessary to reverse this trend,” Adam Pellegrini, the general manager of Fitbit Health Solutions, said in a news release. 

For many Americans, their employers are the ones picking up the tab for their healthcare. More than half of the non-elderly population is covered by an employer-sponsored healthcare plan, and almost 80% of large companies are self-insured.

As healthcare costs go up, employers are the ones feeling the pressure. Some are starting to get fed up and looking for new ideas. Platforms like Fitbit Cares are one of those ideas. In addition to employers, Fitbit said that about 5 million Humana members — those in its employer group segment — will have access to Fitbit Cares coaching.

Rand - Dollar
Rand - Pound
Rand - Euro
Rand - Aus dollar
Rand - Yen
Top 40
All Share
Resource 10
Industrial 25
Financial 15
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes Iress logo