Given that the test was supported by Apple, it’s unsurprising that researchers found that the watch was effective in detecting heart rhythm disturbances. This feature has been criticized by some doctors because false positives could cause paranoia and create an uptick in unnecessary time and money spent visiting the doctor.
Only 0.5% of the more than 400,000 participants received an irregular heart rhythm notification, illustrating the feature’s ability to give a user important health information without creating unnecessary burden to their doctor’s schedule. Many participants sought medical treatment following their irregular rhythm notification, using the information to have more meaningful conversations with their doctors.
In an exclusive interview on the eve of the publication of the study, Sumbul Desai, M.D., Apple’s VP of Health, said that during the conceptualizing and design of the product, Apple worked with the medical community, especially around the concern of how to ensure that it won’t drive unnecessary use of medical resources through false positives—the great responsibility. “Before a notification is given to a person, the feature has to see five instances that look like Afib.” Notes Dr. Desai. “By doing that gating within the algorithm, Apple designed toward specificity and toward avoiding unnecessary alerts.”
Can’t wait for this feature to come to Canada.