To counter criticism that wearable devices do not produce better health outcomes, Fitbit partnered with Fitabase to create a curated Research Library that contains an up-to-date reference list for studies that have used a Fitbit device. From validations studies to innovative intervention and one-off case studies, the reference list covers nearly everything that has been published in peer-reviewed journals. Currently, the resource includes 162 studies, and Fitabase will maintain the Research Library with new references and links to studies as they are published or meet the standards of acceptance.
In regard to corporate wellness research, Fitbit announced the results of two studies that looked at the impact of Fitbit on healthcare costs. The company sponsored a study to evaluate the return on investment of workplace wearables. The study reviewed three years of medical claims, pharmacy, biometric, and activity data to analyze a Fitbit corporate wellness programs at a large, self-ensured employer with more than 20,000 employees. The study included 2,689 participants, 866 of which opted into the program and used the Fitbit tracker for some duration of the program. The first year was a baseline. The following two years looked at the impact of the Fitbit program. The analysis found that the average cost of employees who opted into a workplace Fitbit program was reduced by nearly 25% (about $1,300 per person). Of those who opted in, 266 employees used their Fitbit tracker for at least half the duration of the program and decreased their healthcare costs even more – about 46%.
Fitbit also referenced a smaller employer study from 2014 by the Dayton Regional Transit Authority (DRTA), which distributed Fitbits to about 600 of their employees. The DRTA was able to see an improvement in health outcomes including an average decrease in LDL cholesterol levels of 12 points and in glucose levels of 17 points after one year, which the company estimated would save them about $2.3 million over two years.
It is important to note the Fitabase is going to included “nearly” every peer-reviewed study. Which studies will not be included and why? Hopefully, the criteria for including or excluding a study will not be based on the outcome.