Apple-funded Stanford study concludes Apple Watch can be used to measure frailty

Close-up photo of a black smartwatch on a wood table.
Enlarge / Buttons on the side of an Apple Watch Series three.

A new study on the effectiveness of the Apple Watch and iPhone as tools for measuring functional capacity in sufferers with cardiovascular illness (CVD) has been published by researchers at Stanford University.

The study, which involved 110 participants, identified that the overall health-monitoring capabilities in these goods could supplement or replace in-clinic tests for “frailty” in sufferers with CVD.

Frailty in this case is measured in terms of the distance a patient can travel in a six-minute stroll. This is generally tested with a six-minute stroll test (6MWT), and frailty was defined in the study “as walking

The study identified that an Apple Watch was in a position to accurately assess frailty with a specificity of 85 % and sensitivity of 90 % in a supervised, in-clinic test. But the potentially important obtaining is that it was in a position to do the very same accurately with a specificity of 60 % and sensitivity of 83 % in unsupervised, at-household tests.

The researchers for that reason concluded that the Watch is precise sufficient to replace the in-clinic tests in numerous situations. Here’s what the researchers’ post says about the test benefits:

Under a supervised in-clinic setting, the smartphone and Apple Watch with the VascTrac app had been in a position to accurately assess “frailty” with sensitivity of 90% and specificity of 85%. Outside the clinic in an unsupervised setting, the household-primarily based 6MWT is 83% sensitive and 60% certain in assessing “frailty.” Passive information collected at household had been practically as precise at predicting frailty on a clinic-primarily based 6MWT as was a household-primarily based 6MWT, with region beneath curve (AUC) of .643 and .704, respectively.

And right here is their conclusion:

While the advantages of telemedicine and remote monitoring—convenience, low expense, enhanced information quality—have been postulated for some time, the COVID-19 pandemic has produced accelerated implementation a security crucial. In this study, we showed that intelligent device-primarily based measurements, such as each a 6MWT and passively collected activity information, supply clinically precise and meaningful insights about functional capacity in sufferers with CVD.

You can study the complete paper at PLOS One. It’s significant to note that even though the study was performed independently, it was funded by Apple. Also, the study has a modest sample size, and the sample size did not incorporate considerably demographic diversity.

Apple may possibly have funded the study to help in advertising or lobbying for the acceptance of an Apple Watch for this use case, or the business may possibly have commissioned the study to tap the benefits to inform choices about which overall health functions to invest in for the Watch.

When the perform for the study was completed, researchers had to use an app known as VascTrac to run the tests. But Apple has considering that added the 6MWT test as a constructed-in function of watchOS, so an more app would no longer be required.

Apple CEO Tim Cook has stated he sees wearables like the Watch as the future of the business in numerous techniques, and numerous of the strides in innovation and adoption the business has accomplished in current years have been in that category. Studies like this support the business make the case that its goods resolve genuine-globe issues.

That stated, Apple’s claims on this front may possibly not usually pass scrutiny. For instance, some medical doctors have raised concerns that the Watch’s attempts to identify atrial fibrillation do not adequately replace far more robust testing and that the readings may possibly lead to unfavorable outcomes for sufferers if they are misused.

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