While some consumers would complain about its outdated style, the Apple Watch may be winning hearts in the medical field, figuratively and literally. While its rivals may boast of fancy styles, the Apple Watch has repeatedly been cited in stories of how the smartwatch may have saved a life. Those, however, have mostly been anecdotal but now a more scientific study from Stanford has the numbers to back those up.
Atrial fibrillation or AFib is sometimes considered one of today’s silent killers. It often goes undetected and can be intermittent, resulting in late diagnosis or even death. Any method or instrument that can reliably and accurately alert people to potential AFib problems can definitely save lives, and Stanford’s Apple Heart Study set to find out if the Apple Watch is one such device.
In November 2017, Apple and Stanford distributed Apple Watches to more than 400,000 participants across all 50 US states. The study lasted for eight months and participants were monitored for any AFib notification from the Apple Watch and an accompanying app. Should they get such a notification, they are encouraged to get a telemedicine checkup and are sent an ECG patch to continue monitoring their condition.
Of the over 400,000 users, only 0.5% or roughly 2,000 received a notification. That may seem like a small number but it’s a significant one. It means that users won’t get flooded by false positives. In fact, of those 2,000, 84% were proven to indeed have had an atrial fibrillation at the time of the notification. 57% of those sought medical attention afterward, something that may have saved their lives in the long run.
While it’s not an endorsement of the Apple Watch as a professional diagnostic device, it does confirm the role the wearable can play in the early detection of potential health problems. It’s no wonder, then, that Apple continues to focus on this particular use case even when other smartwatch makers seem to have their attention all over the place.