For those that didn’t view Apple’s latest keynote, the development that carried the most groundbreaking health impact was the reveal of the Apple Watch Series 4.
What was so impressive was with the upgrade of its electrodes and sensors the watch is now able to perform an FDA -approved ECG (electrocardiogram). It’s touted as the first ever DTC ECG. The president of the American Heart Association, Ivor Benjamin, MD showed up on stage to give the ECG his endorsement.
The clinical utility is that patients can now monitor their heart rhythms and can be alerted to potential atrial fibrillation or AFib. AFib causes more than 750,000 hospitalizations, 130,000 deaths per year and costs the US about 6 billion per year. (Source: CDC) This advancement, if it’s widely adopted, could have far-reaching impact.
Another new Apple Watch health application is the ability to detect if a person falls or slips. Relying on data from thousands of real-world fall and slip events, the watch with its upgraded accelerometer and gyroscope can detect the motion of a fall or slip and will send an SOS to an emergency contact. This could be the end of “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up”. Even if a fall caused a wearer to lose consciousness, presumably the alert would be sent.
In the hospital setting, patient falls and slips are a major quality measure and having this technology can help ensure care teams are alerted if a fall or slip does occur.
As wearables become increasingly clinical grade, diagnosing or detecting other diseases may just be around the corner. I’m tracking it all with news updates on my Apple Watch.