To participate in this new study, anyone over 22 years old with an Apple Watch Series 1 or later, regardless of geographic location, can download the Apple Heart Study app, which uses the watch's heart-rate sensor to measure heart rate. If the sensors record a rhythm that looks like atrial fibrillation, the app will send the user a notification. The user will also get a free consultation with a doctor. Those consultations will be provided by American Well on its telehealth platform.
"This study is the first to bring connected care to clinical research, moving the cycle from the hospital to the home through a combination of wearables, analytics, telehealth and consumer devices," said Dr. Ido Schoenberg, chairman and CEO of American Well.
The Apple Watch led the pack of wearables in heart rate accuracy, according to a 2017 study published in the Journal of Personalized Medicine. The Apple Watch had the lowest margin of error for measuring heart rate compared to the six other wearables the researchers looked at, including the Fitbit Surge and Samsung Gear S2.
Apple may also benefit from other companies' work with its devices. Thursday, the Food and Drug Administration approved the first Apple Watch accessory to be considered a medical device. AliveCor's KardiaBand EKG reader, a band for the Apple Watch, has a fingertip EKG sensor. Apple itself has said it's not interested in getting the Apple Watch itself FDA-approved, since that might slow development.