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Options for Distributing Fitbit Devices to Study Participants
What are my options for Fitbit device distribution to study participants?
There are three options for distributing Fitbit devices to study participants - Manual Ordering, Fitbit Storefront, and Fitbit Dropship. Each option has benefits and drawbacks. See below for more information and to decide which option works best for your research study.
What is the Manual Ordering process?
Manual ordering is when study teams order devices from the Fitbit website and distribute them to participants themselves, either in person or via mail. This is often best for studies that require mailing more than just Fitbit devices (e.g., Fitbit, scale, and welcome packet) or in-person touchpoints with hands-on device training. Fitbit offers bulk ordering with a minimum purchase of 30 Fitbits. For more information or to get started, contact Fitbit Health Solutions.
What is Fitbit Storefront?
Fitbit Storefront is a device distribution option that allows study teams to create a custom website through Fitbit, which participants can then use to order a particular device for the study. With this option, study teams are able to set parameters around available devices. However, teams may experience limited visibility into order details, fulfillment, and available inventory once participants are passed to the Fitbit site. Additionally, purchasing directly through the standard Fitbit interface may require more information from participants than your IRB deems appropriate (e.g., entering contact information in both CareEvolution and Fitbit). Fitbit offers this option to study teams with a minimum purchase of 250 Fitbits. For more information or to get started, contact Fitbit Health Solutions.
What is Fitbit Dropship?
The Fitbit Dropship API helps study teams streamline device distribution to study participants through integrating Fitbit and CareEvolution. Using this API, along with device parameters determined by the study team, CareEvolution collects device ordering data from participants and shares those data with Fitbit. Fitbit then oversees shipping devices directly to study participants and returns ordering details back to CareEvolution. This option is best for larger studies, as Fitbit requires a minimum purchase commitment of 1000 devices to enable Fitbit Dropship. It works well for study teams who want to collect data from participants through one channel (CareEvolution) and have more insight into order details and inventory management. For more information or to get started, contact Fitbit Health Solutions, as well as CareEvolution.
Fitbit Dropship Explained
What information will I need to share to get started with Fitbit Dropship?
Study teams will meet with representatives at Fitbit and CareEvolution to set the initial project scope. It is important to work through the details of device inventory management and how those details will impact study recruitment and enrollment prior to your initial meetings. We recommend preparing using the following questions and prompts.
- How many devices will you need for your study?
- What device model(s) and color(s) will you provide?
- If you have multiple device types/colors, will you restrict ordering by availability of each type/color?
- Does your project have multiple substudies in which devices are needed? If so, what are the budgetary considerations for each study?
- Will you manage participant invitations based on device inventory? (e.g., stop recruitment once inventory runs out)
- If managing inventory, do you need to automatically revoke invitations after some time period if the participant does not order a device?
- What is the trigger for shipping devices to participants? (e.g., after completing consent, after participant completes a specific survey, etc.)
- Does the study have a credit limit with Fitbit that will impact device ordering? Note: Orders might begin failing if invitations and device orders exceed the monthly credit limit.
- If a participant already has a Fitbit device, will you send them another device or have them use their current device for the study? Note: Fitbit accounts can receive data from multiple devices and CareEvolution links to Fitbit accounts, not specific devices.
- If participants will be able to use their current device, what are the considerations around device functionality for the study (e.g., year, model, data collection capabilities required)?
- Will participants be asked to return the device after a given time period or are they free to keep the device after study completion?
What happens after the initial meetings with CareEvolution and Fitbit?
After initial discussions, Fitbit will pass the promo code and credentials of your project to your contact at CareEvolution, who will launch the process and reach out to your team as more information is needed.
What is the setup timeline?
Standard configuration for Fitbit Dropship will take approximately 2-months to complete. This time estimate includes test and production account setup with both Fitbit and CareEvolution, as well as final pre-launch testing. Any additional configuration requested by study teams will likely lead to a longer setup time. Contact CareEvolution for more information.
Can I order more than one device type for my study?
We recommend ordering one device type and color for your study to simplify the ordering survey (e.g., everyone automatically gets a black Charge 4). However, we recognize that more than one device may be required. In this case, we can configure multiple device types and colors. Contact CareEvolution for more information.
What if a participant already has a Fitbit device?
Participants are often in multiple studies that use wearable devices and/or already have a device for personal use. If this is the case, the study team will need to include a question in their screener survey indicating that this individual does not need to be mailed a device. However, please be sure to determine whether their current device captures the necessary data for your study (i.e., has the necessary functionality, whereby a newer model is not required). Work with your contacts at CareEvolution and Fitbit to ensure this process is in place.
Can I mail other materials with the device using Fitbit Dropship?
Studies often require the shipment of multiple devices or informational materials to participants (e.g., scales, welcome packets). Fitbit Dropship is designed to ship Fitbits alone. For additional device and information shipments, manual shipments may make the most sense. CareEvolution can discuss options based on study needs.
How are participant addresses shared between CareEvolution and Fitbit?
Study teams include address fields in a MyDataHelps Designer survey (often the Baseline). When participants submit their responses to that survey via MyData Helps, and reach the trigger point determined by the study team (e.g., participant enrolls, completes specific survey), Fitbit will ship the specified device to the participant, using the shipping information provided in the survey, as well as the parameters set by the study team during the initial setup meeting (e.g., device type, ordering restrictions). The process reduces participant burden by having them interact with only one platform, MyDataHelps, while Fitbit and CareEvolution coordinate shipping logistics behind the scenes.
If I have multiple sub-studies, can I enable Fitbit Dropship for all of them?
Yes, it is possible to enable Fitbit Dropship for multiple studies. During your initial setup meetings with CareEvolution and Fitbit, share specific details for each study to ensure the budget and inventory details are clearly defined and differentiated.
What are some IRB considerations for using Fitbit devices in research?
IRB considerations include participation and withdrawal, health and safety, data and privacy, and device function. Since participants are offered devices for participation, concerns around participant coercion may be raised by the IRB. Other study teams have found that providing clarity around these considerations in IRB documentation is an important step. Here is some example language for your team to consider:
Participation and Withdrawal
- Remember, you are able to withdraw from the study at any time in the participant portal. If you withdraw, you will stop sharing your Fitbit data with the [study].
- Participants [will not be asked to return their Fitbit, even if they choose to withdraw from the study / will be asked to return their Fitbit at the end of the study period].
Health and Safety
- The purpose of the study is not to determine the safety or effectiveness of the Fitbit.
- Good hygiene while using the device is important to protect skin from irritation. Please refer to Fitbit, Inc’s Product Care for more information.
Data and Privacy
- The [study] will not collect location or GPS information from participants though this is collected by Fitbit, Inc.
- Although [study] will protect the information that you give us, we cannot protect or control what Fitbit does with your Fitbit data.
- If you withdraw, you will stop sharing your Fitbit data with the [study].
- Fitbit Inc. will have access to participant Fitbit device data.
- Participants can delete the data collected by Fitbit and their Fitbit account at any time.
- [Study] will notify the IRB of model updates as Fitbit releases new iterations of the offered devices only if the new models significantly modify functionality available on the devices we will provide to participants.
- Fitbit’s Terms of Service are legally binding. Fitbit may ask participants to agree to certain things that affect their relationship with Fitbit, like what happens if they are injured and how to settle any legal disagreements with Fitbit.
- Fitbit uses the data it receives to provide, improve and develop its services. For example, with some devices, it uses information from your device to tell you about your activity and sleep.
- The use of Bluetooth technology to connect to Fitbit may affect the battery life of your phone or tablet.
- If you would like to limit the use of your data plan, we suggest connecting to a Wi-Fi network before logging into MyDataHelps or opening the Fitbit app.
- Please note that data and/or messaging charges may occur as a result of taking part in this study and you are responsible for them.
How do I track device shipments?
Fitbit shipments typically take 5-7 business days, unless a device is backordered in which case the shipment may be delayed. All participant communication about order status and tracking is handled by Fitbit, using their standard order communication process. Reach out to your point of contact at Fitbit for more information.
How do I cancel a device shipment?
Deleting or canceling Fitbit orders is sometimes necessary. To cancel an order, reach out to CareEvolution.
Are grants available to help me purchase Fitbit devices for my study?
Historically, Fitbit has provided grant funding to researchers (e.g., Fitbit Health Equity Research Program). Continue to check the Fitbit website or reach out to your Fitbit contact for more information on current and future grant opportunities that will support Fitbit devices in your research.
Where can I find more information?
This content was created by and for CareEvolution. Information is subject to change. Last Updated 8.5.2022.