Stanford Study Finds Apple Watch Can Accurately Assess ‘Frailty’ Using Activity Data


Stanford University has published the results of a new Apple Watch and iPhone study focused on the functional mobility of patients with cardiovascular disease. The data suggests that the iPhone and Apple Watch can accurately assess “frailty,” both in the clinic and at home.

As you first saw it MyHealthyApple, the study was funded by Apple and consisted of 110 Veterans Affairs patients using an iPhone 7 and Apple Watch Series 3. Data was collected through a study application, VascTrac, as well as passively collected activity data .

The study used the score from the six-minute walk test, or 6MWT. This was added in watchOS 7 and described as a “gold standard for assessing a patient’s functional mobility.” The 6MWT is a common measure of frailty in the healthcare industry. Higher scores on the 6MWT are indicative of “healthier cardiac, respiratory, circulatory and neuromuscular function,” according to Apple.

In the study, patients regularly took six-minute walk tests at home and then compared those results with their performance in the clinic for the same test.

6MWTs were performed at home weekly through the VascTrac application. The app was passively collecting activity data, such as the daily step count. Logistic regression with forward feature selection was used to assess home 6MW and passive data as predictors of “frailty” as measured by gold standard supervised 6MW. Frailty was defined as walking <300 m in a 6M PM in clinic.

The study found that an Apple Watch can accurately assess fragility with a sensitivity of 90% and a specificity of 85% in a clinical setting. In an unattended environment, Apple Watch can accurately assess fragility with a sensitivity of 83% and a specificity of 60%.

Therefore, the study concludes that the iPhone and Apple Watch can serve as an accurate predictor of fragility based on the performance of 6MWT. The conclusion of the study explains:

In this longitudinal observational study, passive activity data acquired by an iPhone and Apple Watch was an accurate predictor of 6MWT performance in the clinic. This finding suggests that frailty and functional capacity could be remotely monitored and assessed in patients with cardiovascular disease, allowing for a safer and higher resolution follow-up of patients.

You can find the full results of the study here.

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