The old adage “An apple a day keeps the doctor away” took on new meaning when the technology giant revealed the many health features included in their new platforms Tuesday.
As many of you know, while I am not a spring chicken – I am hardly an old fart. But still, as an active clinical practitioner, I was slow to integrate non-medical technologies to my practice.
However, over the years, I have embraced some technologies like electronic medical records, digital storage of diagnostic imaging, and my practice was even one of the first to utilize telemedicine over a decade ago.
Over time, I have become enamored with the quality of Apple products because I find them extremely user-friendly – even to a non-tech guy like me.
So last year, I started recommending several medical apps to some of my patients looking for information on pediatric care and pregnancy calendars.
And now, I will tell you that with the announcement of the new platforms that the company is launching, including the Apple Watch, I am becoming an Apple Doctor.
And I don’t mean this to be cute – I am being serious.
The health ecosystem that will develop from these technologies will reshape the way doctors interact with patients. I think this is going to bring patients and doctors much closer again, and I am very excited about it.
As more developers begin to write new software, and health care companies like GE begin to integrate their diagnostic tools with some of these devices, physicians will have no choice but to embrace this world.
From what I was able to glean from Tuesday’s unveiling of the product, I think there are several reasons as to why the Apple Watch will be extremely valuable to patients when it launches next year.
First, the Apple Watch will not only be GPS compatible, but wearers will also be able to monitor their activities. One group of people that will benefit immediately from this level of technology are patients suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, dementia or elderly folks who might be living alone.
Here you have a group of patients that can lose orientation easily and place themselves in danger. With this Apple Watch, you might be able to monitor their whereabouts, and if they are home you can monitor their activities. This may provide a way to evaluate whether or not the patient is still physically active in ways needed to live on their own. Parents and caregivers of children on the autism spectrum – a condition that can made kids prone to wandering -- may also benefit from this technological monitoring.
Second, the Apple Watch can become a medication reminder for people that are utilizing several medicines throughout the day. The reminder will tell them exactly when to take the medication so it lessons room for error in their daily routine.
There is also a base feature which allows users to monitor their pulse. Some people might question whether this is really necessary or why it’s an important feature. But while that may not seem all that important right now, there is already software out there that not only checks your pulse, but can also give you a single-lead electrocardiogram (EKG) to monitor electrical activity in your heart. This is vastly important for people with cardiovascular disease, and its potential integration into sending this information to your health care provider may one day save your life.
And of course, the watch is full of features that will help you continue to integrate physical exercise and nutritional data to your daily routine, which ultimately, will keep you healthier and living longer.
The watch is slated for release early in 2015, and I can only imagine what the second or third generation might look like two or three years from now.
Technology as a whole is here to stay -- but I think that smart technology will reshape the future of health care in America, and I congratulate Apple for their great innovations.
Dr. Manny Alvarez serves as Fox News Channel's senior managing health editor. He also serves as chairman of the department of obstetrics/gynecology and reproductive science at Hackensack University Medical Center in New Jersey. For more information on Dr. Manny's work, visit AskDrManny.com.