Photo credit : The Verge

A new study published this weeks revealed that Apple watch heart monitor feature leads to needless health care visits. Just about 10 percent of people who visited the Mayo Clinic to see a doctor after detecting an abnormal pulse reading on their watch were actually diagnosed with a cardiac condition.

The research reveals that at-home health monitoring devices can cause to excessive visitation of the health care system, said study author Heather Heaton, an assistant professor of emergency medicine at the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine.

This may be costly for patients and for the system in general, and might be a waste of time.

Heaton and the study team examined patient health records at every Mayo Clinic site, incorporating offices in Arizona, Florida, Wisconsin, and Iowa, for remarks on the term “Apple Watch” over a six-month period from December 2018 to April 2019.

Records of 264 patients were discovered who said their Apple Watches detected an abnormal heart rhythm.
From this category, 41 spoke of getting a signal from their watch (the indication of an alert wasn’t mentioned precisely in the health record of others). Half of the patients had a cardiac diagnosis, comprising of 58 who were formerly diagnosed with atrial fibrillation. About two-thirds had signs, including lightheadedness or chest pain.

Just 30 patients in the study received a cardiac diagnosis after visiting the doctor. Several of the abnormal heart monitor data, were presumably false positives, the study concluded.

“It is hard for a user to ignore an alert that they could have a serious medical condition,” said Kirk Wyatt, an assistant professor of pediatrics at Mayo Clinic and author on the study.

Cases related to this are not rare, some people visit the doctor after researching medical conditions online, Heaton said.

These smart watches “blur the line between rigorously-studied medical devices and wellness tools,” Wyatt said.

People might not be fully knowledgeable about how they work and its main function. For instance, people with atrial fibrillation diagnosis, should not to use the Apple Watch feature.

Monitoring health at home might be easy using smartwatches but researchers are still uncertain about what their utility could be. Several research done on the Apple Watch, concentrates on how well it can discover atrial fibrillation, this however, does not track how adequate it can be as a screening tool in the context of the health care system.

Without enough evidence of the usefulness of the smartwatch, doctors like Heaton are more concerned that the devices could cause undue confusion and pressure for patients. “Understanding context and the nuances of illness is important and at this point cannot be fully understood purely by a wearable medical device,” she said.


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