Wearables transform the healthcare industry

Wearable technology is more than just a fancy accessory strapped to your wrist. Nowadays, wearables play a fundamental role in transforming the healthcare industry and provides a clearer picture of an individual’s health status.


Cardiogram, an app that allows you to track your heart rate, designed by a mobile tech company with the aim of reinventing preventive medicine, recently announced their learning network, DeepHeart, is not only able to detect hypertension, sleep apnoea, and atrial fibrillation by using data gathered from 14,011 Apple Watch users, but it was also able to detect that 462 of them had diabetes – resulting in 85% accuracy in its diagnosis.

How does it do this?

Cardiogram and the University of California, San Francisco used 14,011 subjects and some 200 million heart rate sensor measurements to train DeepHeart and test the accuracy of the neural network’s ability to distinguish between people with and without diabetes.

DeepHeart can monitor the pattern of beat to beat heart rate variability to detect changes that are associated with diabetes, such as elevated resting heart rates or slower heart rate recovery after exercising.

2018 will see Cardiogram launch new features to incorporate DeepHeart directly within the app. This is just one example of how the merging of two worlds is changing the foundation of an industry.

Apple has the advantage

However, for the potential of wearable devices to be fully realised, it’s critical that the data collected is integrated across all devices, and that there is governance over its storage. It’s vital that all data is secure and presented in a format that is easy for the user to understand.

This is where Apple has the advantage. Apple has gone to extreme lengths to create an infrastructure that ensures the privacy and protection of data. Therefore, not only is health data extremely secure, but Apple’s ‘Health Kit’ is built into the operating system; a programming framework accessible via iOS to all application developers. This central framework plugs into iOS wearables, offering users an activity tracker, health vitals, results and records all in one accessible, user-friendly hub that overcomes previous language barriers through its multi-linguistic functionality.

Then, once the user has personally authorised their information to be available, they are able to share this data with healthcare providers, meaning that these providers receive a consistent and comprehensive medical history and lifestyle overview, which would result in a better-informed treatment plan.

Apple’s ‘Medical ID’, available on all iOS devices, such as iPhones and Apple Watches, takes this a step further. All pertinent health information, such as pre-existing conditions, blood type, emergency contact numbers etc. can be pre-loaded and accessed even on a locked phone, in an emergency.

In an accident scenario, having immediate access to this information leads to a quicker response and more appropriate treatment, which can be the difference between life and death.


Vernon Foxcroft is the Business Development Manager at Digicape.