Here is an interesting article I read a few months ago:
Apple COO Jeff Williams:
Apple has gotten “a ton of emails where people say the Watch actually saved their life,” he says.
“The only thing on the Apple Watch from a medical standpoint is the heart rate sensor,” he says.
And while anyone can talk their own wrist pulse anytime, “having the information readily available and passively tracked in the background has proved to be profound, in a way we didn’t anticipate,” he adds.
“We’ve gotten so many emails where people or their cardiologist have written us and said, ‘This person detected something on their Watch and came in and they had a life threatening situation. If we had not intervened, they probably would have died.”
So, continuous heart rate monitoring can be very valuable, and the article also mentions a Fitbit detecting a woman’s sleep apnea… What’s next?
I can remember my mom having a health issue and she had to carry around a heart monitor for several days. It was bulky, strapped on to her, and needed to be unplugged from her when she showered. It was an inconvenient interruption to her life, but it provided important information for her doctor.
Imagine a few years from now when you go to your doctor and say, I’ve noticed an issue where my heart starts racing even though I’m not exercising… and your doctor says, that’s interesting, will you please download your last month’s data onto my tablet? A couple clicks later your doctor knows when this happened, your step count for the day, the last time you exercised, your blood pressure, your heart rate, your sugar levels, the oxygen levels of your blood, and a whole host of other data that she has at her finger tips.
She won’t have to say, I think I need to run some tests, but rather she will have a plethora of historical data that actually extends beyond what she might have tested for. She might have advice to share that she would not have known to share if you hadn’t provided her with this data. Maybe she injects a small sensor under your skin so that your watch can provide her with more information. And then you can set your watch to ping your doctor the next time you have an issue.
And then the next time the health issue does happen, your phone actually warns you before you feel your heart racing. As the sensation hits you, you get a text message from your doctor saying, “Don’t worry, it will pass, set an appointment with me next week, we will work to settle this down”… or, “Are you with someone that can drive you to the hospital? I’ll meet you there.” This might be a bit scary, but not as scary as the text message not happening and you having a medical issue that is much better or far worse than you think.
Yes, there are some worrisome questions like ‘who owns this data’, and privacy is a concern, but this is really exciting and can become something that saves your life more than once. The issue of private data being shared is something we will all have to figure out. People are already working on this, listen to CBC Spark with Nora Young to learn more: How to empower patients with medical data.
On a lighter side, maybe this watch that you wear (or maybe it’s a cyborg-like addition to your body rather than something you wear) can actually help you maintain a better lifestyle. Maybe it knows you are on a diet and locks the fridge when you try to get into it after 8pm, or it beeps incessantly and annoyingly when you are eating something unhealthy. Or it reminds you that you have missed your scheduled workout and prompts you to set up a ‘make-up’ time.
We are entering an interesting time of wearable technology and some time soon, accessories like watches might be watching us far more than we are watching them!