Information from the IPO dossier of Rockley Photonics, a British startup led by Andrew Rickman that develops health parameter sensors, provides insight into its relationship with Apple — its main customer — and leads The Telegraph to speculate that the next Apple Watches could incorporate additional sensors to measure glucose, blood alcohol levels and blood pressure.
These sensors, coupled with existing heart rate monitoring, electrocardiograms, algorithms for determining certain arrhythmias and calculation of blood oxygen concentration, would turn the Apple Watch into a “doctor on your wrist”, enabling comprehensive monitoring of critical health parameters for many patients. This would make the Apple Watch an irreplaceable value proposition for millions of people with heart conditions, diabetes, respiratory diseases or, in general, for virtually anyone interested in preventive health monitoring. Much has been said about the potential of this type of wearables to monitor chronic conditions: incorporating new parameters of special relevance such as blood pressure only complements many of their possibilities in this regard, just as the incorporation of the measurement of blood oxygen saturation about a year ago was seen by some as a way of being able to detect COVID-19 infection.
In line with the increase in the use of telemedicine the pandemic has accelerated, the next revolution will be the kind of preventive health monitoring that before could only be obtained by visiting a doctor or a specialist, but that can now be generated routinely and practically continuously.
The clinical studies carried out on the information obtained point to the enormous potential for this type of service, given that the device’s accuracy is supplemented by an increase in the number of measurements, which makes it possible to reduce standard errors and to detect anomalies. From there, machine learning algorithms would be used for routine monitoring, leading to supervision by a physician only in cases where the algorithm is not conclusive, which would imply an appropriate use of resources and a potentially much more adequate level of care with a much greater capacity for early detection of problems.
On the one hand, such a system would likely reduce morbidity, mortality and, in general, patient suffering, while at the same time reducing costs for the healthcare system as a whole by being able to diagnose more problems earlier, when treatment can be carried out more efficiently. More and more companies are working in the area of cloud health, which encompasses telemedicine, monitoring, the application of machine learning to diagnosis and the provision of healthcare services, all at the same time as we are seeing significant investment earmarked for a field that, based on the current state of technology, makes perfect sense. The benefits are there, and it won’t be long before we start enjoying them.