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Apple is testing whether the Apple Watch can detect heart problems

Apple is testing whether the Apple Watch can detect heart problems | Digital Disruption in Pharma |
  • Apple is testing whether the Apple Watch can detect cardiac abnormalities.
  • The company is working on the tests with partners including Stanford and telemedicine company American Well, according to two people familiar.
  • If successful, the move could turn the watch into a 'must have' for millions of patients.

The company is partnering up with a group of clinicians at Stanford, as well as telemedicine vendor American Well, to test whether Apple Watch's heart rate sensor can detect abnormal heart rhythms in a cohort of patients, according to two people familiar.


Apple's Tim Cook hinted at the company's interest in heart health applications in an interview with Fortune published on Monday.


"We started working on the Apple Watch several years ago," he said, and one goal was "performing some measurements of your health that people were not measuring, at least continually. Like your heart. Very few people wore heart monitors. We're extremely interested in this area. And yes it is a business opportunity."


Cook went on to describe the medical health activity market as the "largest or second largest component" of the economy.


In June, CNBC reported that Apple hired Sumbul Desai, a rising star on Stanford's digital health team who was working on projects related to Apple Watch. CNBC also reported that month that Apple has been in talks with developers, hospitals and other industry groups about bringing clinical data, such as detailed lab results and allergy lists, to its devices.


Further Reading:

Pharma Guy's insight:

In May 2017, Cardiogram ( and the UCSF Health eHeart Study ( released results showing DeepHeart, a deep neural network, can detect atrial fibrillation with 97% accuracy, using Apple Watch's heart rate sensor. DeepHeart was first trained on data from 6,158 Apple Watch owners—139 million heart rate measurements and 6,338 mobile ECGs—to identify atrial fibrillation using Apple Watch's optical heart rate sensor. DeepHeart was then tested on a separate group of 51 UCSF patients undergoing cardioversion, a heart procedure, and showed a c-statistic of 0.97 at distinguished atrial fibrillation from normal heart rhythm.

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