The doctor said it’s time for Apple Watch to check all health boxes

As a researcher at Harvard University, Shruthi Mahalingaiah has been using Apple Watch Track the ovulation cycle In an unprecedented large-scale study, 70,000 women were studied for more than two years. But as a doctor, she complained that she was trapped by “dinosaur technology”.

The iPhone maker touted the Apple Watch as the “ultimate device for healthy living,” but Mahalingaiah could not use it with her patients because there was not enough innovation to verify and integrate the data.

“Our practice is sometimes decades later than scientific discovery,” she said. “We have personalized surveillance, we have the entire medical industry complex-but how will they talk to each other?”

Mahalingaiah’s problem in finding ways to integrate Apple’s technology into daily care was part of the reason why Apple Watch was launched in 2015 and worn by more than 100 million people, but it largely failed to deliver on its “healthy future mastery” Promise on your wrist.

The company’s CEO Tim Cook has repeatedly stated that Apple’s greatest contribution to the world will be “health and wellness” and that Apple Watch is the most striking part of this strategy. Its series of sensors It can measure blood oxygen levels, track exercise, sleep and heart rate, and perform ECG.

When Apple launched the ECG function in 2018, Dr. Richard Milani, vice chairman of Ochsner Health’s cardiology, predicted that it would “reverse” the trend of how to monitor and treat patients.

He said that he remembered his colleagues “running up to me and saying:’I can make a diagnosis based on this, and I don’t even need to do another test, because this is the clinical level!”’

He is optimistic about how the management of patients with chronic heart disease will transform from a simple “two to three visits a year” to a more comprehensive approach, including continuous symptom monitoring.

Milani said his team is now able to monitor data points from thousands of patients, and then use artificial intelligence to predict things such as who might fall next year-this is the main cause of hip fractures, brain injuries and many other problems. People 65 years and older.

But he admitted that “general doctors don’t do all this.”

Michael Bruce, a clinical psychologist known as the “Sleep Doctor”, also believes that wearable devices such as Apple Watch can break the traditional “passive doctor-patient relationship.” But he said that “99.9% of doctors” are not on board.

Apple Watch is worn on the wrists of more than 100 million people © AP

The potential for data to improve preventive medicine is huge. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention stated that chronic diseases are the “major driver” of the US$3.8 trillion health care expenditure and “usually” can be prevented through exercise, diet and early detection.

Valencell co-founder Dr. Steven LeBoeuf said: “If all you get from people is accurate heart rate and accurate activity background, then you can simulate whether they have high blood pressure, whether they have diabetes-all of this.” , The manufacturer of biometric sensors.

“The problem is that this is not accepted by the medical community and will not be accepted for a long time,” he added. “This [Food and Drug Administration] It must be approved, then the doctor must accept it, and then they need to be reimbursed. This is a long process. This is not as simple as people think. “

Apple is trying to make some progress, such as working with the pharmaceutical group Johnson & Johnson to study how its watches can reduce the risk of stroke. It also collaborates with university researchers such as Mahalingaiah to design large-scale studies. It also worked with hospitals to study how to digitize clinical communications.

But critics say that Apple’s efforts are inconsistent with its marketing promises. Sami Inkinen, CEO of Virta Health, a telemedicine clinic that focuses on type 2 diabetes, said that simply providing people with more information is not enough.

“It’s like selling a weight scale to someone: it’s not difficult to tell people what percentage they are overweight,” Inkinen said. “But how do we really change behavior and drive results, such as lowering blood sugar, stopping you from taking medication, and losing weight? To me, Apple Watch doesn’t have this at all.”

One Research Papers The article published in May confirmed the findings of others: “wearables lag behind their potential” and “there is very little evidence that” they “brought lasting behavior change”.

Apple said its focus has always been to provide customers with tools to monitor their health and is working with developers in the medical field to promote more personalized patient care. It points to a new “sharing” feature that allows users to share their data with family members, caregivers or doctors.

“Although we are still in the early stages of our health journey, we are excited by the story that the lives of our customers have been improved-in their own words, salvation-thanks to the technologies we design and manufacture,” it said.

Neil Cybart, an analyst at Above Avalon, said that entering the healthcare field can be said to be “a departure from some of the core competencies that Apple has.”

He added: “They are very good at developing a device that can capture this data, but (not too concerned) trying to get these large networks to accept this and make their workflow centered on the Apple Watch.”

At the same time, according to Forrester’s research, most Apple Watch buyers already consider themselves healthy, which shows that from a health perspective, the device is unlikely to be worn on the wrists of those who need it most.

“The worrying thing is that the people who need it the most have the least chance. Even distribution is also critical,” said Dr. Seth Martin, a cardiologist at Johns Hopkins Hospital. He said that Apple seems to be more focused on adding new features to the device, rather than helping doctors integrate it into their practice. He added that Johns Hopkins University lends Apple watches to patients so that they can use its apps.

Creative Strategies analyst Carolina Milanesi said that although Apple is focused on health, it is happy enough to sell watches as a lifestyle accessory for the iPhone, and it is unlikely to study medical wearables in more depth.

“If they are really interested in changing health, then they will turn on the watch and use it with Android,” Milanesi said. “But they won’t do that.”

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