Wearable devices may be the future of healthcare

EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) - In collaborative study between Apple and the Stanford Medical Center, more than 400,000 Apple Watch users were monitored for Atrial Fibrillation, or AFib, which can lead to stroke.

While this technology is helpful, local medical professionals said it is does not replace a human doctor. One of those medical professionals is HSHS Sacred Heart Hospital nurse educator, Hannah Schroeder.

“Web based resources and applications, while they have infinite possibilities, are not the end-all-be-all of medicine,” Schroeder said.

The results of the study were published in the New England Journal of Medicine and may prove wearable devices can alert users to health problems. The study used sensors in Apple Watches to check if users had Atrial Fibrillation. More than 419,000 participated in the study. Of those, 2,161 received notifications of irregular pulse.

“AFib is the short word for Atrial Fibrillation. In your heart, you have four different chambers. The two at the top are called your atria,” Schroeder said. “Those chambers, in AFib, quiver or they fibrillate. What that means is they are barely pumping.”

Schroeder is a nurse educator at HSHS Sacred Heart Hospital in Eau Claire. She said wearable technology does have benefits.

“It is really helpful in the sense that you can keep track of patterns. That's a lot of data that can go to medical professionals,” she said.

However, she also said it also has its drawbacks.

“There is only so much information that goes into a fitness tracker," she said. "It's still only just a snapshot of the picture of you."

Schroeder says while artificial intelligence can't replace a trained medical professional. But, she said it can be helpful for those in the medical field.

“There is definitely a place for artificial intelligence and the data you can get from wearables in the medical profession,” she said. “As we move forward, the providers who utilize that A.I. data at the same time as seeing the patients physically, I think it will definitely be a substantial piece in the future of healthcare.”

According to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, between 2.7 million and 6.1 million people in the U.S. have AFib, which can cause blood clots. Clots, in turn, can in turn lead to a stroke. Stroke is the fifth leading cause of death in the U.S. Even if you wear a smart device, it is recommended you still see a doctor on a regular basis.