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October 17, 2018

First cardiology, now orthopedics. The new way Apple Watch wants to improve care.

Daily Briefing

    Apple on Monday announced it is working with orthopedics company Zimmer Biomet to test a new app for the Apple Watch that will allow patients recovering from hip and knee replacement surgeries to monitor and share health data with their doctors.

    The news comes weeks after Apple announced its next Apple Watch will feature an FDA-cleared electrocardiogram (EKG), prompting an ongoing debate among providers and health care experts as to whether the benefits of the EKG feature will outweigh the harms.

    How to incorporate wearables data into clinical practice

    App details

    According to CNBC, the app, called mymobility, will guide hip and knee replacement patients through the surgery and recovery process by providing them with educational resources, exercise videos, and ways to contact their surgeons with questions.

    The app also will track patients' health data, such as their step counts and heart rates, and allow patients to share that info with their doctors. The data could help doctors have a better idea of how their patients are recovering and provide ways to address potential setbacks, CNBC reports.

    The two companies currently are working to enroll 10,000 people in a clinical trial of the app. Bryan Hanson, Zimmer Biomet's CEO, said the companies' collaboration will result in "one of the largest evidence-gathering clinical studies in orthopedic history."

    App aims to foster patient-doctor collaboration

    Initially, the app will be available only to trial participants, but the companies plan to make the app available to all patients at some point in the future, a Zimmer Biomet spokesperson said.

    Dan Williamson, Zimmer Biomet's group president for joint reconstruction, said, "When you look at what patients have to do when they undergo hip and knee replacement, in some cases they have very low support or guidance before and after surgery, which creates a lot of unnecessary fear and anxiety." He added that the goal of mymobility is to "reduce anxiety for the patient and make sure the surgeon has the level of visibility they need."

    Jeff Williams, Apple's COO, in a statement said the new app will allow patients and providers to connect in a way that was "not previously possible through traditional in-person visits" (Farr, CNBC, 10/15; Mishra, Reuters, 10/15).

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