As we head to ATTD in Vienna comes news that FitBit has bought Twine Health. According to FitBit;
“Fitbit is pleased to announce that we’re acquiring Twine Health, a clinically proven health coaching platform that allows people to take control of their health and achieve better outcomes. Twine’s user-friendly, engaging experience has enabled workplace health providers to deliver better coaching to people managing chronic conditions.”
Remember FitBit has also invested $6 million in a CGM start up and plans to incorporate this technology into its wearable device. So, this latest news is hardly shocking nor surprising as FitBit is just the latest company to jump onto the interconnected diabetes management (IDM) bandwagon. A wagon that’s getting more crowded by the day.
While in Vienna we suspect we’ll see lots of companies who like FitBit see IDM as the future. Yes, the toy makers will be out in full force explaining why their way cool whiz bang cloud enabled toy is the best damn toy in the world. They will extoll the virtues of IDM, explaining with passion why this is the future of diabetes management. While we don’t and never have disagreed with the promise of IDM we have several issues with transforming this promise into anything substantive.
Rather than repeat our many reservations as to why the promise of IDM has yet to yield anything more than hype, let’s look at the good news here. As this move by FitBit along with moves made by others in the Valley shows the emergence of CGM as the standard of glucose measurement, which is very good news for Dexcom (NASDAQ: DXCM), Abbott (NYSE: ABT) and Medtronic (NYSE: MDT). It’s also good news for the many CGM wannabes unfortunately many of whom have nothing more than a good idea combined with a fancy PowerPoint presentation.
Hopefully at some point all the toy makers will move beyond way cool whiz bang and begin to think about the actual patient experience. About how if this technology is not used by patients it’s just another toy that looks great but isn’t being played with. Hopefully they will begin to realize that making the damn thing is the easy part, that getting the toy played with is the hard part.
IDM is no different than another piece of diabetes technology as once its built it must sold and supported. Which just reinforces what we say all the time the real winners here won’t be who can build the coolest toy, but which company can get their toy reimbursed and into the hands of patients. Which company can execute the mundane but very necessary fundamentals of running a commercially viable business.
This is one reason we continue to believe that Dexcom, Abbott and Medtronic have the best chance of coming out on top. As unlike others they not only have a product that works but they know how to run a commercially viable business.
The reality here is something we also say on a regular basis, giving the patient the how to is the easy part. The real test is transforming data into action. To go beyond telling the patient what needs to be done to providing the patient with the motivation to do all the heavy lifting.
So far IDM has concentrated on gathering the data, analyzing it and then providing patients with suggestions as to how they can better manage their diabetes. This is a good start but only a start. If IDM is to ever reach its potential to go beyond its promise it must find a way to go beyond giving the how to and moving patients into the want to category. Otherwise IDM will go down as yet another example of way cool whiz bang technology that looks good on paper but fails to yield anything of substance.