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04 January 2022
Apple Watch has yet to deliver on health promise
Health & well-beingPersonal accessories
More than 100m people wear an Apple Watch, a device that can monitor blood oxygen levels, track movement, sleep and heart rate and even take an electrocardiogram, but it has yet to transform health outcomes in the manner initially envisaged.
Why it matters
Wearables such as the Apple Watch have the potential to radically alter the traditional doctor-patient relationship with regular monitoring and preventive interventions which could help reduce America’s $3.8tn healthcare costs. But that requires access to the data collected and, so far, most doctors don’t have that.
Apple has partnered with multinational consumer company Johnson & Johnson, hospitals and university researchers on various studies, but there remains a gap between the individual user and the “medical-industrial complex”.
Critics say Apple’s marketing has promised more than has been delivered and that the tech company is focused on features rather than joining the (data) dots in a way that could encourage widespread behaviour change.
There’s also a suggestion that those people most likely to benefit are those least likely to be wearing such a device.
Progress will require overcoming various obstacles, including gaining regulatory approval and getting buy-in from the medical establishment.
“If they were really interested in making a difference in health, then they’d [Apple] open the watch to work with Android, but they’re not doing that” – Carolina Milanesi, president and principal analyst at Creative Strategies, speaking to the Financial Times.