Fitbit, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Pfizer partner to address gaps in atrial fibrillation detection

Fitbit is teaming up with the Bristol-Myers Squibb-Pfizer Alliance to help "drive timely diagnosis" of atrial fibrillation (AF) with the aim of improving earlier detection in individuals at higher risk of stroke, the companies announced Thursday. James Park, CEO of Fitbit, remarked that "with our continuous, 24/7 on-wrist health tracking capabilities, and our experience delivering personalised, engaging software and services, we believe we can develop content to help bridge the gaps that exist in AF detection, encouraging people to visit their doctor for a prompt diagnosis and potentially reduce their risk of stroke."

Park noted that Fitbit has been working on its AF detection technology for "quite a while," and is "in dialogue with the FDA to get that cleared and available to consumers." The company is currently collecting clinical data, but has not submitted its information to the regulator for final approval. Park said "we're also looking beyond the detection and diagnosis, and trying to think about the whole healthcare pathway as it relates to AF. It's why we're working with" Bristol-Myers Squibb and Pfizer. He added that Fitbit will eventually provide its AF detection feature to more consumers by bringing it to any device in the company's line with a heart rate sensor.  

Joseph Eid, head of medical affairs at Bristol-Myers Squibb, said that "these efforts with Fitbit exemplify…our dedication to advancing care by embracing technology as a part of routine clinical practice."

Under the partnership, the parties plan to collaborate on the development of educational content and guidance to support people at increased risk of AF. Upon FDA submission and clearance of the AF detection software on Fitbit devices, the parties will aim to provide users with appropriate information to help encourage and inform discussions with their doctor. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

In August, Fitbit launched Fitbit Premium, a subscription service that provides users with personalised programmes, workouts and insights into their fitness, and also released Versa 2, the next-generation version of its smartwatch, at a price of $199. Apple later reduced the price of its Apple Watch Series 3 to $199. The Series 4 and Series 5 versions of the Apple Watch can both detect AF using their built-in electrocardiogram (ECG) sensors.

In January, Apple entered into an agreement with Johnson & Johnson to determine whether a new app-based heart health programme can speed diagnosis and improve outcomes in AF. The programme will use an app from Johnson & Johnson in combination with the Apple Watch ECG app and irregular rhythm notifications.  

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