Apple Watch: why a heart doctor says beware

Apple has released a new Apple Watch that charges into the health and wellness space. The new Apple Watch Series 4 is a bona fide, FDA-approved medical device capable of performing an electrocardiogram (EKG) and detecting abnormal rhythms such as atrial fibrillation. The new features and the FDA imprimatur push the Apple Watch to a new level of leadership in the health space. And how does the medical establishment react? In this article, John Mandrola MD, a cardiologist writes, “As a heart doctor, my opinion is that if you think an Apple Watch is nifty, buy one. But do not buy it for your health. It will not improve your health, and it could even bring you harm. In particular, I’m concerned about the problems that arise when we screen healthy people.... Sending hundreds of thousands of wrongly diagnosed people to the doctor scares me.” Dr. Mandrola accurately explains the pitfalls of over-detecting minor variations in a large population. But this critique falls into a common pattern of health care experts: namely, over-valuing precision and under-valuing the power of giving consumers tools that motivate self-change. The real story here is not the EKG or the diagnosis of atrial fibrillation, but the future implications of highly motivated and empowered consumers. Dr. Mandrola need not worry: as new features get released, people are not going to flock to doctors. They will share their the data with their coaches, trainers, and friends to improve their health and performance.

Read: I’m a Heart Doctor. Here’s Why I’m Wary of the New Apple WatchRead: Apple Unveils Bigger iPhones at Higher Prices, and a Heart-Tracking Watch

Read: Freed From the iPhone, the Apple Watch Finds a Medical Purpose

Read: FDA warning that the Apple Watch is not for diagnosis

Read: How Big Tech Is Going After Your Health Care

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