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Fitbit's making it easier for doctors to monitor your heart health

No more manually exporting your data.

Published onJuly 10, 2024

fitbit versa 2 heart rate
Andy Walker / Android Authority
  • You could already use your Fitbit to watch for signs of atrial fibrillation (AFib), but now you can automatically share that data with professionals.
  • A secure API is intended to limit access to only authorized medical providers.
  • Users will have to opt in before any of their personal data is shared.

Modern smart wearables are packed to the brim with advanced sensor technologies, so it’s little wonder we’ve seen them start to edge in on the domain of wearable medical devices. While there were some early regulatory hurdles to overcome, eventually we saw the FDA grant clearance for devices like those from Fitbit to use their heart-rate sensors to passively look for signs of atrial fibrillation (AFib), a potentially serious medical condition. Now, Google’s working to make that data even more useful for your doctor and make it easier to share.

You’ve already been able to set up your Fitbit (or Pixel Watch) to monitor for possible AFib, but how the system works and which wearables it’s compatible with can be a little confusing. Only Fitbit models with an electrocardiogram (ECG) sensor can do the kind of detailed analysis to accurately differentiate AFib from a normal rhythm. However, taking ECG measurements is a 30-second, manually triggered process and not the sort of thing you can monitor around the clock. Instead, Fitbit relies on irregular heartbeat detection over the long term, to spot possible AFib events. That’s a bit less definitive, but also opens up detection to a much wider range of the company’s hardware.

In the past, you’ve been able to export this data and manually share it with your doctor. But now Google has announced it is making it possible for you to share this data with doctors, nurses, and health researchers through its Fitbit Web API. Enabling this connection is designed to make sharing the health data from your Fitbit a whole lot easier, while also making it much more medically useful.

Medical professionals will be able to securely access your historical heart-health data through the API, once properly authorized. That should let them screen patients who are at risk of AFib for early detection, as well as follow up with closer monitoring for patients showing need.

Google tells Fibit users to be on the lookout for the app inviting you to share your data. While using commercial wearables for health monitoring is understandably a touchy subject, with the right data security practices in place, this extension to the Fitbit Web API sounds like a potentially very useful tool for patients and doctors alike.

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