Recently Apple debuted its first wearable device – the Apple Watch – which has several sensors capable of monitoring several aspects of consumer health and will even be able to sync with EHR applications. The Apple Watch is expected to be the link between doctors and patients as Apple prepares to enter the lucrative healthcare IT market.
The company has already lined up several partners such as Epic and the Mayo Clinic and is reportedly working on bringing other healthcare entities on board their platform, HealthKit. There is no doubt that the company will indeed sell millions of wearable devices in spite of the relative failure of competing devices thus far. However there is less certainty if this latest device will indeed prove beneficial to the health care system.
One of the most anticipated features about the Watch is that it will be able to sync data that it has collected directly with electronic dental records and practice management systems. But dentists are unsure if that data is necessary or even useful. There are very few instances where the calorie count or number of miles walked by a patient is relevant to their treatment and it is probable that those patients in need of more expensive treatment will be less likely to see the benefits.
Another pressing concern is accuracy or the lack thereof. Mobile devices and the software that runs on them is becoming progressively smarter as the months go by but the accuracy of the sensors is nowhere as high as doctors would like. Consider the simple act of tracking the number of miles walked by a person. Practically every wearable fitness tracker on the market today will show a different figure depending on the accuracy of the sensors and the way it interprets the collected data. The only thing more aggravating than the lack of data is probably having too many sources of inaccurate information.
If it is not even possible to accurately track simple activities, it is unlikely that the Apple Watch will succeed in solving more difficult health problems. With dentists already facing considerable difficulties when it comes to data entry for dental software, the last thing they need is to be deluged with a flood of inaccurate or useless information which has to be weeded out. Nevertheless the wearable device market is still a nascent segment and it is likely that future iterations will prove more valuable to doctors.
Dovetail is a 2014 MU certified software for dental practices, designed from the ground up to be cloud-based and accessible from anywhere.