Clinical Agreement – Potential Issues with Wearables?

I am currently reading about analytics for Pharmaceutical and Healthcare and the most recent topic I am learning about is Clinical Agreement.

Clinical Agreement as I understand it to be is how well measurements captured by multiple raters (a device, machine, person, technical method or trial) agree with each other. By ‘agreement’ I would mean – reliable, repeatable and consistent

And so it is with great interest I came upon the following post from MacRumors about users who reported that heart rate data captured on the Apple Watch was being sent sporadically to the iPhone.

Some Apple Watch Users Experiencing Issues With Inconsistent Heart Rate Data Following Update

While the issue discussed is about the inconsistency in sending data to the iPhone, it inevitably raises the question on how well wearable devices perform in the area of clinical agreement. I do wonder what the impact would be if:

  • Consumers start to provide doctors and healthcare professionals with information from wearables and devices that may not be reliable, consistent or repeatable.
  • Consumer wearable devices when reading biometric information do not record or transmit consistently.

While it is great that consumer electronic companies are now getting into the healthcare space by enabling devices and applications in the form of wearables and making the individual responsible for staying healthy, I do think that when it comes to the area of health, extra care and attention needs to be applied to such devices.

When we start to rely on such devices to track our health, these devices must not only stand up to the current expectations of consumer hardware (e.g. durability, performance, quality etc) but also be tested to ensure clinical reliability and safety.

I am excited about the future of wearables and its health applications – but I also anticipate that eventually consumer electronic companies would also need to work closely with established healthcare device manufacturers to learn and apply the same rigour when introducing such devices.


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