From the iPhone to Google Glass, Apple products make waves when they're released, whether the new item revolutionizes the industry or is just cool to play with. Since its release earlier in 2015, the Apple Watch has been a product met with mixed reviews. While some would put it in the revolutionary category, others feel that it's simply a cool piece of tech that offers little in terms of novel features. But regardless of whether the watch is seen as useful or superfluous as an accessory, it could be a game changer in the field of healthcare.
Over the last several months, multiple hospitals in the U.S. have started to incorporate the Apple Watch into patient care at their facilities. The watch helps monitor patients' conditions when they are away from their provider, giving hospitals a better idea of the state of their health. The following are four specific ways that hospitals are incorporating this technology into patient care:
1. Aid patients with hypertension.
When patients have a chronic condition like hypertension, it is not practical for them to be monitored 24/7 by their providers. However, regular monitoring can be greatly beneficial for increasing patient outcomes. To address this paradox, doctors at Ochsner Health System in New Orleans are giving patients Apple Watches to help improve their care, Forbes magazine reported. The watches help those with hypertension by giving them reminders to take their medication, become more active and make positive lifestyle changes.
"We need to fundamentally change behavior," Dr. Richard Milani, the chief clinical transformation officer at Ochsner, told Forbes. "And the Apple Watch has the potential to [do] it."
2. Keep chemo patients on track.
Patients who are being treated for cancer have long lists of medications, treatments and symptoms to keep in order day in and day out. To help these patients stay on track with their treatment schedules, King's College Hospital in London is taking advantage of the technology provided by the Apple Watch, the Advisory Board Company reported. The hospital gave out watches to a handful of patients to help them stick to their medication regiment and additionally provide the ability to easily track and report their symptoms and temperature.
3. Study epileptic seizures.
While those who have epileptic seizures are able to be helped by medication, some people experience negative side effects when they are on these drugs or are otherwise still at risk. According to the Baltimore Sun, scientists at the John Hopkins University are using Apple Watches to collect information about patients' seizures to gain a better understanding of how to help those with neurological conditions. Researchers are accomplishing this using EpiWatch, an app they designed which collects data before, during and after a seizure.
"Physicians often ask patients to record their seizures, but that can be hard, especially when a patient loses consciousness," Dr. Gregory Krauss, a neurology professor at the John Hopkins University School of Medicine, said in a press release. "EpiWatch collects data that help researchers better understand epilepsy, while helping patients keep a more complete history of their seizures."
The app also has a journaling function which prompts users with a series of questions, such as "Have you had a seizure today" and "Did you take your medication today?" the university reported.
4. Review stats on the go.
While most every doctor is busy, many providers who work at large hospitals, especially specialists, have the additional challenge of being continually on the go. A physician may travel from the emergency room to the intensive care unit to the cardiology floor and back to the office all in a single hour. While electronic health records and electronic medical records software are helping providers access patient records remotely, they still must be at a computer or similar device to read the information. According to Healthcare IT News, Ochsner is now working on ways to send patient data straight to Apple Watches so providers can review EHR and EMR files and other data while walking through the halls of the hospital.
Healthcare IT News reported that the prototype is currently in development and is in working condition, but is not yet production-ready. The team hopes to use the technology to ultimately minimize the length of stay for patients at the facility.