New study suggests iPhone, Apple Watch could help those with rheumatoid arthritis

ther Apple Watch researchNew research from scientists suggests that an Apple Watch and an iPhone could help those suffering from rheumatoid arthritis by providing more up-to-date data to healthcare providers.

Specifically, the study was published recently in the journal Nature. It indicates that “digital measures of health status captured during daily life could greatly augment current in-clinic assessments for rheumatoid arthritis.”


More specifically, the researchers carried out a 14-day observational study that investigated whether digital technologies could augment existing data from patient reported outcomes. In other words, they looked at whether the Apple Watch could help providers with additional data.

Interestingly enough, the researchers used the Apple Watch’s passive sensors to collect data on a number of different metrics, including:

  • Health status
  • Mobility
  • Dexterity
  • Fatigue
  • Other RA symptoms

From there, the team developed a machine learning algorithm to distinguish the status of a patient’s rheumatoid arthritis, and to estimate the severity of the symptoms.

The study compared 30 people with moderate-to-severe rheumatoid arthritis (RA) with 30 healthy people in the control (HC). The results were very promising for those with rheumatoid arthritis.

Specifically, the team indicates that “daily wearable sensor-outcomes robustly distinguished RA from from HC participants.” Put another way, the team’s machine learning framework could accurately differentiate between someone with rheumatoid arthritis and a healthy person with only sensor data.

Additionally, the study notes that “sufficient volume of data had been collected to reliably capture the characteristics of RA participants.” The study also suggests that doctors could improve the severity levels of self-reported rheumatoid arthritis symptoms by supplementing patient reports with sensor data.

“The ability to measure the impact of the disease during daily life—through objective and remote digital outcomes—paves the way forward to enable the development of more patient-centric and personalized measurements for use in RA clinical trials,” the study notes of the Apple Watch rheumatoid arthritis research.

Other Apple Watch research

This is far from the only study suggesting that the Apple Watch is a boon for managing many different health conditions. Recently, a University of Arizona research study suggested that the device could help pregnant women manage their weight.


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