Released at the end of April, the first product Apple Watch pós-Steve-era Jobs, promises to give a big boost to the revolution of health care applications
São Paulo – there’s no need to waste time looking for references to apple’s clock in the biography of Steve Jobs. The product announced in September and sold from the end of April is the first of the company without contributions from the leader killed in 2011. There are no Jobs in digital design, but the melee around the launch of Apple Watch, a computer designed to be worn on the wrist, it looks the same seen previously with the iPods, iPhones and iPads.
On Friday, April 10, the first day of pre-sale, almost 1 million requests were made in the United States, number higher than the total sale of smart watches in 2014. As has happened before, the Apple didn’t invent this product category, but the expectation around your newest release is such that April 2015 can go down in history as the hallmark of the true birth of the wearables — the digital devices that are “dressed” in the body, such as watches, bracelets and smart glasses.
For now, the product will be available only in the United States, in Australia and in seven countries of Europe and Asia — there is no forecast for the arrival in Brazil. Before long, however, the watch may become as common as the ubiquitous iPhones.
Since Tim Cook, Apple’s Chairman, announced the launch of the Apple Watch, the technology consultants come redoing their sales forecasts. According to Euromonitor, the number of wearables sold worldwide last year was 22 million. This year should reach 71 million and, in 2018, jump to 260 million.
If the predictions are true, we will see a growing number of people looking for the wrist to read messages or raising the arm near the mouth to speak instead of using the phone. Apple’s strategy is to sell the watch as a luxury product, and it is quite possible to win status of item sets.
But it is in the area of health that the popularity of Apple Watch promises to usher in a major shift. Glued to the body, the wearables are able to continuously monitor the health of users. This is already a fact in the fitness area.
Who wears bracelets as the Up, the electronics manufacturer Jawbone, you can see the amount of exercises done by day, the number of calories burned and the quality of sleep. At launch, the Apple Watch will have similar capabilities and, later, the expectation is that step much higher to connect users to the health system.
A practical example of this is the work being done by the Department of medicine at Stanford University. In March, doctors at the University launched the application MyHeartCounts, in which people are encouraged to register information such as your diet and physical activity.
The idea of this initiative is to build a database to study the relationship between daily habits and the development of cardiovascular diseases. On the other hand, those who use the application receives a medical evaluation of experts from Stanford. In a few weeks, the researchers were able to measure the power of Apple, owner of the platform Research Kit, where the MyHeartCounts is available.
Used to attract no more than a few thousand participants for their research, the doctors now think they will easily milhões. For now, the application is only available in iPhones and iPads in the United States. “Imagine when you go to the clock, which measures heart rate,” says Alan Yeung, Director of the Division of cardiovascular medicine at the Stanford University School of medicine.
In addition to being able to participate in medical research, users of wearables may decrease visits to their own doctors. At least that’s the idea of English Mike Barlow. Diagnosed with Parkinson’s at the age of 41 years, Barlow left the job at a logistics company two years ago to create the application MyHealthPal, focused on people with the disease.
The application makes voice test and precision, with touch screen phone, to measure the development of the disease. His motivation was the slowness of the health services. The visits to the doctor were semi-annual Barlow wanted a more immediate response about the effectiveness of the medicines he was taking.
For now, the app, developed in partnership with Mount Sinai hospital, New York City, is in the testing phase. “When these applications migrate to the wearables, we’re on another level because they can capture more data than the cell phones,” says Stanley Shaw, professor of medicine at Harvard University and one of the developers of an application focused on diabetes.
Projects like these are possible today because there was a huge breakthrough in the so-called big date, the ability to store a huge amount of data and use software to analyze them. Now, faced with the possibility of having so much information on health, several companies are racing to see who comes out ahead in the Organization of these large databases.
The largest investment in medicine from Google Ventures, the internet giant, is the Flatiron, a company that has a platform in the cloud to store patient information. In the first half of April, the technology company IBM announced the creation of a new business unit, the Watson Health, it will offer a similar service — including in Brazil.
To mount it, IBM bought two companies of data storage and analysis of the health of the United States. For now, the records of the customers will be supplied with information from clinics and hospitals, but in the future, will be able to receive data from wearables. The idea is that a software help the doctors time to set the Diagnostics and medicines and serve as a tool for researchers.
“You can enter information about a type of tumor, for example, and know right away which molecules are worth being tested based on the most current studies on the disease. This will make the search in the area much faster and cheaper, “said Fabio Scopeta, leader of the Watson Health in Brazil.
Still in April, IBM also announced a partnership with Apple to store data and set up a platform that unites researchers, doctors and health plans. “We’re seeing the beginning of a great revolution in medicine,” says Alexandre Chiavegatto, professor of statistics at the Faculty of Public Health of the University of São Paulo.
The cost of health
Have access to more information about each patient must reduce health care costs. With updated medical history and available on any computer, the diagnoses should be more accurate and the number of exams that end up being repeated because they are requests by different doctors should fall. According to the British consulting firm PwC calculations, if the entire Brazil adopt digital resources already available until 2017, annual health spending will have a reduction equivalent to 15.2 billion dollars.
Everything that is related to the wearables and mobile phones is part of what was called mobile health (or “mobile health”, in a free translation). And the mobile health is part of something greater, called precision medicine, in which occurs the use of all available information about a person, from eating habits to genetic data.
The American company Foundation Medicine, which counts among its investors with the Swiss pharmaceutical Roche, performs DNA testing of cancer patients looking for mutations that indicate the most appropriate remedies for each case. So far, 10000 people have done genetic tests.
“The interest of this kind of pharmaceutical company is easy to explain. They want to cross the information of Dna databases with the molecules of medicines for developing new medications made for smaller groups of people, “says Carlos Gil Ferreira, clinical research coordinator of the National Cancer Institute, a body attached to the Ministry of health.
Also in this area, Google created, in 2013, the Calico, a company that aims to increase the lifespan of humans. The American General Electric, another interested in this new race, he set up a 250 million dollar fund to invest in startups that develop medical solutions.
At a time that the medicine seems to be about to take a new leap, some experts are calling attention to the dangers of idealizing the power of technology. An article published in April by the doctor Des Spence in the British Medical Journal says that the indiscriminate use of applications can create a kind of mass hysteria.
With too much information, people can be led to do misdiagnoses and, instead of empty offices and hospitals, increasing the demand for them. Spence cites as an example a few cases of cardiac arrhythmia and high pressure that have no adverse health effect, but that if they are identified by ordinary people, can increase self-medication.
According to Spence, people will waste time monitoring the life instead of living, and who will come out winning are pharmaceutical companies. Arguments that have been used to criticize the decision of the Foods and Drugs Administration (FDA), which regulates the health sector in the United States. In February this year, the FDA released a statement in which it says that is not meant to regulate applications considered low-risk.
A survey conducted last year by McKinsey consulting in Germany, the United Kingdom and in Singapore with more than 1000 people indicates that 75% of respondents want to use digital healthcare services, but two caveats. The first basic sounds: the services must meet the needs of patients.
The second hit bottom a problem in this segment: the lack of quality. “For the development of digital medicine, there is no doubt that the wearables still need to move a lot in terms of accuracy,” says Krishna Yeshwant, managing partner of Google Ventures.
Apple’s entry is taken as a sign that the accuracy of the equipment tends to increase. The company created by Jobs is world famous for the quality and your sales will certainly raise the competition. “We could already be in the wearables, but were waiting for the Watch, which should be more precise,” says Alan Yeung, Director of the Division of cardiovascular medicine at the Stanford University School of medicine, in the United States, and one of those responsible for the development of MyHeart application Counts.
The first Apple Watch users complained that it is difficult to use it, and some came to say that the product has been released yet looking like a test version, something that Jobs would never have done. Unlike defending Jobs in product launches, Apple Watch has a distinction of style.
The Sport is sold to sports practices, the Watch for the day to day and the Edition is a premium gold plated model — prices vary from 349 to 17000 dollars. For doctors, patients and scientists involved with precision medicine, none of that matters.
They just want Apple’s clock is a landmark in the popularization of wearables. For fans of Apple, the confirmation of this prophecy will also fall well. Saving lives is what is lacking for Jobs to be canonized.
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