In light of the technological advances, I purchased the $399 version of the Apple Watch Series 4 when it was released in October 2018. Here are the reasons why I upgraded from the Series 1:
- ECG ability (single-lead electrocardiogram) December 2018
- Active Afib monitoring (critical for early stroke detection) March 2019
- Fall detection
- SOS—you can press and hold the right button
- Battery life greatly improved
The above list only notes the new features I was most interested in personally. I already use many of the other functions of the watch—Apple Pay, sleep monitoring, heart rate, etc.
I live in the Stroke Belt (the Southeastern U.S.) according to a map displayed at Sentara Hospital. An Afib alert could be one sign that a stroke is coming. A watch that alerted you that your heart is showing irregular heart rhythms would be a worthwhile $399 investment. The longer battery life on the Series 4 means I wear it overnight as a sleep tracker. If my heart ever went into Afib while I was asleep, the watch could sense it and alert me.
The Apple Watch Series 4 is a great option for seniors who may not want to make the investment in LifeAlert (or outright refuse because it signifies age like a cane, a walker, etc.), especially if they already have an iPhone.
The Apple Watch Series 4 fall detection requires wrist detection to be turned on. The new model has more precise accelerometers and gyroscope sensors to detect if a hard fall has occurred. Over time, the hardware learns what your “normal” movements are, so when something abnormal occurs, it can send an alert. If you didn’t fall, you can press “I’m OK”. If you don’t respond, it will contact emergency services.
The Apple Health application also has a Medical ID which you can configure to be accessible on the lock screen. If you have a medical condition or take medication, you should consider configuring this feature in the Health App. You can also set your emergency contacts. This information also feeds to Apple Watch. If you activate Emergency SOS , your device can call emergency services and send your contact(s) a message that includes your location.
When Apple introduced their first watch, I felt like they were on their way towards creating a wearable that would disrupt the medical industry in ways I read about in Dr. Eric Tool’s “The Creative Destruction of Medicine”. Other than Apple, I can’t name another technology or data company that I would trust with my health data—forget Google, Facebook, or even Equifax. I watched a Frontline documentary in 2008 of healthcare in other countries—11 years ago. We are so far behind in workflows and technology utilization (see Taiwan), it’s staggering to think where we could be vs. where we are.
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