Health Informatics Discussion Forum

Would you prescribe an iWatch?

From the recent news from Apple, it looks like the iWatch is going to be a significant product in the health tracking area. Could it do for home monitoring what the iPhone did for smartphones? I've recently been working on a telehealth project using an Android tablet and bluetooth connected monitors. I think that a watch that could collect health data would be a significant opportunity for self-monitoring of patients with chronic diseases (not to mention all the fitness fanatics). So would you prescribe one for your patients?

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  • IMHO, a wearable gadget should be prescribe depend on the financial status of patient.
    • I have some reservation especially that life is irreplaceable. I would wait until this technology has matured. I know iWatch is more of preventable rather than curative but who knows bugs that might have been unknowingly missed. 

  • What do we really know at this point? Will the iWatch include sensors or will it simply receive and display vital signs and other data from sensors via Bluetooth LE? If it is the latter it would just replace the smartphone as the immediate dashboard. Will the iWatch be connected to the cloud so data can be uploaded and shared? Until we know the details I am reluctant to comment. I will say that I have never seen a time when the interest in developing sensors has been this intense. It does fit the "quantified self" movement but until they can show that more data equals better outcomes the patient will pick up the bill.....Bob

    • Who knows what they will do but Apple is pretty leaky nowadays and from their recent hires and patents it looks like they are planning on including sensors on the watch itself. As someone currently involved in a telehealth project, I am really looking forward to being able to use more compact and less intrusive technology to help older people manage with conditions that can benefit from remote monitoring. I'm not convinced yet about the benefit for fitness fanatics of having extra data but I can see the potential.

  • You are right Bob. I feel it calls for consented efforts especially from IT specialists (health informatics specialist inclusive) and medical personnel. If this technology can be well aligned with the health care strategy, we could see a revolution in health care delivery. May be the question I would pose is "How cheap will this technology be for my people in Africa" especially that our mission in the Health Sector is to provide quality health care as close to the family as possible at almost no cost. currently in Zambia, clients/patients are not charged user fees for all services be it consultation, dental services, scanning services, operations services etc.
    • I think that this type of technology has the greatest potential for countries without existing investments in expensive equipment and software as they may be able to provide remote monitoring for a fraction of the price of standard remote monitoring equipment currently in use. Although the Apple consumer devices are expensive, we have seen a commoditisation of very similar devices (e.g. Android) since Apple first created the market. I can see the same happening with an iWatch type device.

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