Source: Techtank | October 18, 2018
Authors: Jack Karsten and Darell M. West
Though digital technology has transformed nearly every corner of the economy in recent years, the health care industry seems stubbornly immune to these trends. That may soon change if more wearable devices record medical information that physicians can use to diagnose and treat illnesses at earlier stages. Last month, Apple announced that an FDA-approved electrocardiograph (EKG) will be included in the latest generation Apple Watch to check the heart’s electrical activity for signs of arrhythmia. However, the availability of this data does not guarantee that health care providers are currently equipped to process all of it. To cope with growing amounts of medical data from wearable devices, health care providers may need to adopt artificial intelligence that can identify data trends and spot any deviations that indicate illness. Greater medical data, accompanied by artificial intelligence to analyze it, could expand the capabilities of human health care providers and offer better outcomes at lower costs for patients.
WORKING WITH REGULATORY SAFEGUARDS
Technology companies have historically shied away from entering heavily regulated industries like health care. Fitness apps and wearable devices that track steps walked and miles run are careful not to offer specific medical information to avoid FDA approval requirements. For example, the heartbeat monitor on previous Apple Watch models are less specialized than the new EKG. Similarly, financial technology companies that offer many products are careful not to offer traditional banking services that would require regulatory approval and stricter scrutiny. By adding heartbeat monitoring to its newest Apple Watch, Apple is entering a new regulatory space with a different set of standards. It is one thing for a computer or a phone to malfunction, but for medical devices to do the same could have drastic consequences for the health and safety of users.