Apple Watch users will soon have access to new health care-focused features and apps, including a US Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-cleared atrial fibrillation (AFib) History feature and an app to manage multiple aspects of medication use, the company announced at the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference 2022.
“This fall, watchOS 9 takes the Apple Watch experience to the next level with scientifically validated insights across fitness, sleep, and heart health, while providing users more creative ways to make their Apple Watch their own,” said Apple CEO Jeff Williams in a June 6, 2022, press release.
The watchOS 9 software release will also include an updated Workout app with advanced performance metrics and the introduction of sleep stages to the Sleep app. The most interesting update though for clinicians is the addition of the new FDA-cleared AFib History feature and the new Medication app.
With the current Apple Watch software, the ECG app and arrhythmia notification identify potential signs of AFib, according to the press release. The goal of the AFib History feature is to give wearers and their health care providers deeper insights into cardiovascular performance over time. The software received 510(k) clearance from the FDA at the beginning of June, allowing it to be used by persons aged ≥22 years who have been diagnosed with AFib.
Previously tracking the frequency of AFib episodes and managing lifestyle factors that could impact the condition has been a challenge. With watchOS 9, eligible users can turn on the AFib History feature and access key information, such as an estimate of how frequently their heart rhythm shows signs of AFib and of how long the heart stays in AFib, according to the Apple press statement.
In addition, users will receive weekly notifications that will help them better understand AFib frequency and show them a detailed history in Apple’s Health app, including lifestyle factors that can influence AFib (eg, sleep, alcohol consumption, and exercise). Persons can also download a PDF with a detailed history of their AFib activity and lifestyle factors to share with their health care providers.
The new Medications app is designed to help users, “manage and track their medications, vitamins, and supplements, allowing them to create a medications list, set up schedules and reminders, and view information on their medications in the Health app,” according to the press statement.
Apple Watch wearers will be able to create custom schedules for each medication, whether they need to take it multiple times a day or as needed and can create medication reminders to help stay on track. Also, users in the US can set up alerts to be notified when there are potential critical interactions with medications they have added to the Health app.