New Fitbit exec charged with building out pharma partner deals

As part of its journey from fitness wearable maker to broader digital healthcare company, Fitbit has hired Walgreens ($WBA) executive Adam Pellegrini for the newly created post of president of digital health.

His job? Help Fitbit bring its portfolio of products, data and services into clinical settings, the company announced in a press release this week. And that means Pellegrini will be working to develop partnerships with pharma and medical device companies--along with healthcare systems, payers and insurers.

“I see a tremendous opportunity for healthcare providers, health plans and pharmaceutical companies to foster a more proactive, consumer-centric approach to healthcare using Fitbit’s products, software, services and extraordinary health brand,” Pellegrini said in the release.

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Fitbit CEO James Park told investors earlier this year during the company's end-of-year earnings call that the “real potential of our brand and technology is to become a digital health platform that improves people's health and integrates into the healthcare ecosystem.” Fitbit is currently active in more than 200 clinical studies and several disease management programs for some of the largest health insurers in the U.S.

And pharma companies are likely to be eager partners. Wearable tech is emerging as another channel in pharma's now multichannel strategy to reach and engage patients. The drug-plus-digital strategy is gaining steam across Big Pharma in clinical trials, R&D and marketing. The good news for Fitbit is that in pharma's work to date, partnering has been key. Biogen ($BIIB), for one, recently partnered with PatientsLikeMe to monitor patients with multiple sclerosis, while Pfizer ($PFE) worked with AARP and UnitedHealthcare to outfit people over 50 with fitness trackers and is also currently in a trial with IBM to gather data from Parkinson's disease patients. 

Woody Scal, Fitbit’s chief business officer, said in the release that “we believe that Fitbit can play a meaningful role in the digital health revolution, and Adam is the ideal person to lead our efforts. He brings tremendous experience, leadership and vision to help us further develop and integrate our tools into healthcare, including areas such as behavior change programs, chronic care management, population screening, precision medicine, and remote monitoring for post discharge and care transitions.”

- check out the release

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