Makers of fitness trackers or any device with health-related sensors are often careful to remind their customers that these gadgets, advanced as they may be, shouldn’t be considered as conclusive medical data or replace professional opinion. Apple, however, might be going in a different direction and might soon advertise the Apple Watch as a potential medical aid. Sources close to the matter claim that Apple is working with Standford and telemedicine company American Well to determine if the wearable is accurate and sensitive enough to reliably detect abnormal heart rhythms.
Heart rate monitors on wearables like fitness trackers and smartwatches are just that. The sensor is commonly used to give wearers a rough estimate of their heart beat, mostly for the purposes of workout and general health. But depending on the accuracy of the sensor, it could potentially be used to help diagnose problems before they happen.
Abnormal heart rhythm, medically known arrhythmias, is one of the things that the hear rate sensor could detect. Although not life threatening for most, it could be for those with atrial fibrillation. In such conditions, arrhythmias could lead to blood clot and strokes. But the worst part is that there are no external indicators for it until it’s too late.
That’s where the Apple Watch may come in handy. It’s still not a sure deal, but Apple wants to know if its sensor is good enough to be more or less certified to be used for screening high-risk patients. If it ever does get approved, it would put Apple one step closer to its ambitions of getting a foot in the healthcare door.
It is no secret that Apple has its eyes in the health industry, a mission that it inherited from the late Steve Jobs. The Apple Watch, in particular, has been one its biggest bargaining chip. The wearable has already been credited for being instrumental in saving a teenager’s life and has been used in many closed-door clinical tests.