May 17, 2020

How the Apple Watch is defining the future of fitness trackers

Apple Watch
Health Tech
3 min
The Apple Watch uses LED lights and light-sensitive photodiodes to detect blood blood flow in the user’s wrist and turns it into a beats-per-minute heart reading.
The latest news in the world of fitness trackers is the Apple Watch aiding in saving the life of a Massachusetts teenager after the device alerted him t...

The latest news in the world of fitness trackers is the Apple Watch aiding in saving the life of a Massachusetts teenager after the device alerted him that his heart rate was much higher than normal, leading to the diagnosis of a life-threatening condition.

Paul Houle Jr., 18, said he felt back pain after two football practices in one day but didn’t think much of it, reported the Huffington Post. Upon returning to his dorm room, he checked his heart rate on his new Apple Watch and was immediately alerted to a heart rate of 145 beats per minute—60 to 80 beats higher than the average resting heart rate, according to our sister publication Business Review USA.

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While Houle initially suspected that his Apple Watch might be broken, he went to his athletic trainer for a check-up. After being examined by his trainer and the school’s nurse, Houle was taken to the emergency room, where he was diagnosed with rhabdomyolysis—a condition in which muscles release a protein that damages vital organs and causes a rapid heart rate.

“Doctors told me that if I had not said anything and [had] gone to practice the next day, I very easily could have died,” Houle told the Huffington Post.

The Apple Watch is not a medical device and cannot be used to diagnose heart conditions, Dr. Allen Taylor told Yahoo! News, but it could potentially alert people to a health problem that should be evaluated.

RELATED TOPIC: 3 challenges the Apple Watch needs to overcome to succeed in health care

The future of fitness trackers

The fitness tracking industry is expected to grow USD$50 billion by 2018, and cases such as the one mentioned above will only lead to better technology being created for fitness trackers and more consumers using them.

Fitness trackers currently sense motion to track activity, sync wirelessly with smartphones and measure the user’s activity and heart rate. Additional conditions that can be detected by fitness trackers with heart rate monitoring capabilities include atrial fibrillation (erratic heartbeats), anemia and an overactive thyroid as this can cause a faster heartbeat.

RELATED TOPIC: Google's new wristband could treat Parkinson's and cancer

Fitness trackers for health executives

Fitness trackers are changing as more individuals report their user experience and technology adapts to needs. As of late, fitness trackers are no longer being solely created for consumers as Google X recently reported that it is designing a health tracker just for doctors. The health tracking wristband is intended to be used in clinical trials and drug tests.

Many doctors believe that 50 percent of diseases go from bad to worse because of improper or late diagnosis. Google is hoping to change this statistic however by creating a technology that can extract continuous medical-grade information about the wearer. Doctors can then study and understand recurring patterns of diseases and find the best solution to combat them.

RELATED TOPIC: This fitness app will make you smarter about how to workout

It makes sense that fitness trackers will only continue to improve and offer more potentially life-saving apps. But at the end of the day, whether it's detecting conditions early or monitoring conditions, there are a lot of advantages to fitness trackers.

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Jun 18, 2021

Skin Analytics wins NHSX award for AI skin cancer tool 

2 min
Skin Analytics uses AI to detect skin cancer and will be deployed across the NHS to ease patient backlogs

An artificial intelligence-driven tool that identifies skin cancers has received an award from NHSX, the NHS England and Department of Health and Social Care's initiative to bring technology into the UK's national health system. 

NHSX has granted the Artificial Intelligence in Health and Care Award to DERM, an AI solution that can identify 11 types of skin lesion. 

Developed by Skin Analytics, DERM analyses images of skin lesions using algorithms. Within primary care, Skin Analytics will be used as an additional tool to help doctors with their decision making. 

In secondary care, it enables AI telehealth hubs to support dermatologists with triage, directing patients to the right next step. This will help speed up diagnosis, and patients with benign skin lesions can be identified earlier, redirecting them away from dermatology departments that are at full capacity due to the COVID-19 backlog. 

Cancer Research has called the impact of the pandemic on cancer services "devastating", with a 42% drop in the number of people starting cancer treatment after screening. 

DERM is already in use at University Hospitals Birmingham and Mid and South Essex Health & Care Partnership, where it has led to a significant reduction in unnecessary referrals to hospital.

Now NHSX have granted it the Phase 4 AI in Health and Care Award, making DERM available to clinicians across the country. Overall this award makes £140 million available over four years to accelerate the use of artificial intelligence technologies which meet the aims of the NHS Long Term Plan.

Dr Lucy Thomas, Consultant Dermatologist at Chelsea & Westminster Hospital, said: “Skin Analytics’ receipt of this award is great news for the NHS and dermatology departments. It will allow us to gather real-world data to demonstrate the benefits of AI on patient pathways and workforce challenges. 

"Like many services, dermatology has severe backlogs due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This award couldn't have come at a better time to aid recovery and give us more time with the patients most in need of our help.”

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