An Apple Watch Story

An Apple Watch Story

I have a friend who ended up in the emergency room a few weeks ago. A PA and a young intern insisted he had a heart issue. He said, repeatedly, he did not. They kept insisting even while looking at a ‘perfect' ECG.

Finally a resident showed up, Before he could say a word, she pointed at his Apple Watch, “You tracking anything on that?"

My friend, a runner, said , “Sure, pretty much everything, I think.”

“Can I see the health app on your phone?” He handed it her, she flipped through a couple of weeks’ worth of ECG, heart rates - at rest, walking, running - blood oxygen levels and more. Much more.

“Well, it sure isn’t your heart, I’ll bet you're dehydrated." She had him hooked up to a saline drip, then filled him in on what Apple Watches are doing to help doctors. It’s a lot.

As he told me this, I looked down at my admittedly underused Apple Watch. Then I started going through my Apple Health app - and was blown away.

As I scrolled through, I couldn't help but think about Zack Scott - we wrote about his case a month or so ago. He was the NY Mets GM arrested for DUI in New York. He was acquitted in February after his trial judge viewed dashcam footage of his field sobriety test and said, on the record, "that is clearly a sober man."

He was lucky – very - that the dashcam was on, was clear, and was pointed in the right direction – at the field test. If it hadn’t been what the cops claimed they saw would have been the entire case. Remember, you can be charged with DUI even if your blood alcohol level is below . 08. It's the ‘totality of the evidence; that decides whether someone is charged with DUI. There’s no one individual test or observation. So then, Scott would have been in real trouble if not for the dash cam. There's not always a dash cam or body can or a judge who actually watches the video. All of which brings us back to the Apple Watch.

You may know that the Apple Watch tracks (if you let it) heartbeat, blood oxygen level, takes ECGs,. and can warn people if they are experiencing atrial fibrillation (Afib). Lives have been saved with that one. And it tracks exercise.

What was news to me was that it also does this:

Tracks respiratory rates.

  • Has a ‘Double Support Time’ function that records the percentage of the time when you walk when both feet are on the ground. It’s a measure of balance and coordination.
  • ‘Step Length Walking’ which checks for asymmetry or an uneven walk.
  • ‘Walking Steadiness Notifications’ will send a notification if the wearer has an elevated risk of falling.

It comes down to this: an arrest for DUI can be subjective. Did they actually walk a straight line? They seemed nervous, unsteady, jumpy. They almost fell or seemed about to at any rate.

In baseball a tie goes to the runner. In a DUI case the tie goes to police and they will almost always err on the side of caution.

The Apple Watch may bring some objectivity to the process and that's much needed.