Apple’s 2020 Health partnerships begin to take shape in the area of post-surgical care and mobility

Apple Health Initiatives in post-operative care

Beginning in 2018, Apple started hiring a large number of physicians across US into its payroll. It is estimated that there are at least more than 50 medical professionals currently working for Apple at various locations in US. 

The Cupertino giant has also been teaming up with several other companies on various healthcare-related initiatives in 2020.

Three key health initiatives from Apple this year point to its focus on post-surgical care and rehabilitation. In this article, we examine the initiatives in some detail and explore the value they bring to the space of Healthcare.

One of these partnerships was with Zimmer Biomet, a medical company that specializes in various orthopedic related offerings.

Zimmer Biomet and Apple partnership

This partnership resulted in a new offering called ‘mymobility’. Apple and Zimmer Biomet have jointly created mymobility, a digital platform using iPhone and Apple Watch to inform care decisions and create a new level of connection between patients and their surgeons.

Remember, when Apple introduced the mobility metrics with watchOS 7 along with provisions for the six minute walking test, it appears that it was a result of some of the work that the company was doing with Zimmer Biomet.

This collaboration brings gait quality and intensity data metrics into the mymobility with Apple Watch platform. 

The new metrics will be captured in OrthoIntel, ZB’s new Orthopedic Intelligence Platform, in the ROSA® Knee Reports, allowing surgeons to analyze the impact of intraoperative decisions on functional outcomes over time.

Some of the salient features around this offering include:

  • The mymobility platform leverages the power of sensors in the Apple Watch and iPhone, to assess gait quality and intensity compared to step counts alone.
  • Patients will receive a daily walking goal to capture gait metrics for their surgeon’s review and walking speed milestones, so patients receive progress feedback between office visits regarding their functional recovery.
  • The metrics will be paired with alerts to help clinicians efficiently identify patients who based this gait assessment may not be on-track with their recovery.

Stryker Nordic and Apple another orthopedic post-op effort

Apple teamed up with the Stryker Nordic, a medical device manufacturer out of Sweden in a joint effort with Stanford earlier this summer to spearhead an initiative targeted at improving health care for spinal surgery patients.

Stryker delivers results through a wide range of capabilities, including joint replacements, trauma, spine, and micro implant systems, orthobiologics, powered surgical instruments, surgical navigation systems, endoscopic products, patient handling, and emergency medical equipment.Apple Mobility Metrics and Healthkit data iOS 14

One of the primary goals of spine surgery is to reduce pain and increase mobility to improve patients’ quality of life.

This Apple Stanford study is the first prospective trial utilizing the Apple Watch to objectively track patients before and after elective spine surgery.

The main thinking behind this study is that by providing the ability of patients to track their own activity using the NeuroCoach app and discuss with their surgeon objective mobilization goals will not only help patients achieve empowerment in their own care but also improve their overall satisfaction and self-reported outcomes after spine surgery.

Apple teams up with German Heart Foundation for Dilated Cardiomypathy care

Dilated Cardiomyopathy (DCM) is a heart condition that affects mostly men in their middle ages. 

The five-year survival rate is about 50% for this impacted with this condition. DCM is a condition where the heart becomes enlarged and cannot pump blood effectively.

A large component of the DCM treatment focuses on lifestyle changes along with medications or via using implantable cardioverter-defibrillator.

Apple is looking beyond the ECG app as it tries to understand health issues with the help of medical professionals and zero in on some of the areas where it can create a big impact.

In April 2020, Apple and the University hospital of Heidelberg partnered up with the German Heart Foundation and German Cardiac society to launch a clinical trial focussed on improving outcomes for patients with DCM guided by longitudinal biosensing with the Apple watch.

The study team creates a personalized sports program (depending on the severity of the disease) for the subjects in each of the intervention groups, which consists of strength and endurance training.

The influence of an individualized sports program on dilated cardiomyopathy patients will be investigated in a randomized, prospective intervention study.

These recent collaborative efforts are only a handful that we have highlighted here. The depression focussed study at UCLA just launched this week and there is also work progressing at our neighborhood UCI (University of California Irvine) on understanding Asthma related issues by using Apple Watch.

At the heart of this effort at Apple is the cross-functional team of experts under the umbrella of Health Strategic Initiative (HSI). 

The Health Strategic Initiative (HSI) team objective is to partner with large-scale organizations to deliver custom experiences designed to help users achieve their health and fitness goals. 

This highly cross-functional team of designers, engineers, scientists and clinicians at Apple are all working together to address challenging problems with significant societal impact.

The introduction of SpO2, symptom monitoring and mobility metrics via watchOS 7 this year is just the beginning of Apple’s venture into healthcare. Watch out for new developments and announcements in this area as we move to 2021.

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