Today’s wearables are still designed for the healthy and wealthy, not those who could benefit the most. Medical wearables offer the potential to collect health data and improve health via a combination of real-time AI and expert human intervention. Apple’s announcement of FDA clearance of its Watch for screening for irregular heart rhythms was meant to be groundbreaking. But its medical value right now remains limited and controversial. What will make the promise into reality?
I believe the application that will make wearables medically matter is automated blood pressure monitoring.
The good news is a breakthrough in this space doesn’t seem that far away. Better sensors, algorithms, computing power and battery life are helping companies produce results closer to FDA standards. I expect multiple groups will meet the challenge in the next 18 months.
And he's talking about cuffless monitoring -- so, for example, sensors + algorithms integrated into a smartwatch will very accurately measure blood pressure all day long.
This will open up a lot of new discoveries, also. We'll have a much better grasp on how diet and different types of exercise affect blood pressure. The medial bill savings will be immense.
People often think "I won't get high blood pressure -- that's for out-of-shape slobs who don't take care of themselves". But, actually, a large percent of people who are in shape still get high blood pressure. According to my doctor, it's highly genetically determined, and will get worse with age. So, if you're < 25, you won't have to worry right away; once you hit 35 years of age, you might start to see a rise, if you are strongly genetically pre-disposed to hypertension, no matter your level of fitness; when you hit 45, then it will get even worse, and will definitely show up during a routine health check -- on until you die. I currently am in my 40s, and don't have hypertension -- but it's probably just a matter of time; maybe when I hit 50 or 55 it will start to show up.
I do know of someone about 45 years of age with really bad hypertension -- so bad it cost him a job. I don't know the person particularly well, but he's my brother's wife's brother. When he was in high school, he was a star quarterback; perfect body, and very handsome. I think he got some football scholarships. Anyways, fast-forward to age 45, and he still looks healthy, though has started to go bald (if you want to see how unfair life can be, and how much can be taken away, you should see a before-and-after photo -- this guy at age 18 versus 45); he still exercises and isn't fat. Yet, he has very high blood pressure. He doesn't want to see a doctor or take medicine for it, apparently. Medicine would easily treat it.