Gadget firms — starting with Apple and now Fitbit, which Google owns — are selling wearable devices that check heartbeat rhythms and alert users when something is out of sync, according to KHN.com. Although the gadgets are a technical achievement, some cardiologists say the information the devices produce isn’t always helpful. Notifications from the devices aren’t definitive diagnoses.
“The technology has outpaced us,” said Rod Passman, a cardiologist at Northwestern University who’s assisting with a study examining the Apple Watch’s ability to screen for the heart rhythm condition. “Industry came out with these things because they could. Now we’re playing catch-up and figuring out what to do with this information.”
Studies about the prevalence of anxiety that results from atrial fibrillation pings are hard to come by. Fitbit collected such information, Faranesh told KHN, as part of a survey submitted to the FDA for clearance of its device. But the full results of the study — which collected information from 455,000 patients — aren’t yet available.
This is precisely the feedback this author received during research. The vast majority of HCPs said that they would not use any of the information from a wearable device to make a diagnosis and would do their tests instead. Does Doe this mean wearable device medical applications are a waste of time? No.
Wearable devices can alert patients to potential health issues that require a visit to the doctor. The challenge is getting to the doctor promptly without needing that maze that has become our healthcare system. A new patient, for example, to a cardiologist would require a full battery of tests and a wait time to see the doctor.
Apple has hired an MD to help develop health apps for its apple watch, but to get buy-in from the healthcare community, they need to show data and how it could affect patient outcomes. It’s interesting to note that Apple’s latest attempt to show blood pressure on the watch has failed so far and blood sugar readings.
Even with all these issues, wearables will become part of patient care. It will take a while to get them right and develop clinical studies to support their use, but wearables are the future of patient-focused healthcare.