With the Apple event today and rumors swirling about the Apple Watch possibly having a built-in ECG. Healthcare and Healthcare entrepreneurs were already thinking of the potential effects. Now that we know the Apple Watch does have a built-in ECG and one with FDA approval we can talk about what it all means. First, to preface as someone with a heart condition, this is exciting seeing how technology has progressed just in my own life is amazing. I remember getting ECG’s as a kid getting hooked up with the stickers and giant machine by the bedside recording lines on a piece of paper like a fax machine. Now, that’s possible from something you can wear every day on your wrist, crazy! Now, let’s get into the potential benefits and drawbacks.
Understanding Heart Disease
Gathering data on a daily basis can help personalize medicine and establish new baseline readings for those already with heart conditions, like me. So, that when you go for your checkups the Doctor has a better understanding of what normal looks like for you whether it’s during a routine ECG or a stress test. This can reduce the number of procedures or identify the potential need for more treatment or procedures that can be life-saving.
For those without pre-existing conditions, it can be used to identify potential heart disease or irregular rhythms and save someone’s life. Big picture all of the data gathered can be used to identify and better understand heart disease and potential signs. Daily data, that can be parsed by an AI or algorithm to identify how varying heart rhythms are in normal individuals and correlations to understand the signs of heart disease, leading to less misdiagnosed or undiagnosed conditions. Like with things like better understanding Atrial Fibrillation and how our hearts function as we age. The potential for research is almost limitless.
I’m sure some Doctors upon hearing the news thought, “oh boy, gonna have a lot more patients now”.
- That could be true, many healthy patients might freak out if they see an abnormal reading and rush to the ER for possibly no reason. This is inevitable when you get access to more information, especially information you don’t understand, “Ignorance is bliss” as they say.
- How accurate is the reading? Does it maintain its accuracy if people are moving, sitting, lying down? Does it compare to things like the Zio Patch, often recommended by doctors?
- Needs a diverse set of patients/people to study in order to better understand a variety of demographics.
- The opposite end of the spectrum, patients feel less of a need to see a Doctor.
In conclusion, we’ll have to wait and see if the pros outway the cons. The Apple watch needs more research and uses to see how people react and how providers react. Is there a better way to ease patients if they get an abnormal reading that doesn’t mean they necessarily need to go to the ER? Or can we better communicate remote monitoring to help doctors care for their patients and help people better understand themselves?