Apple investigating automatic blood pressure monitoring technology

Posted:
in Apple Watch
A new patent application suggests that Apple may be looking into "intelligent blood pressure monitoring" with an alert triggered by parameters set by the user -- or by data collected by wearable sensors such as those found on the Apple Watch.




Patent application number 15/094,978, made public on Oct. 12 and discovered by AppleInsider, details the technology. The application addresses not only the measurement triggers, but also examination of the readings in conjunction with other sources of data, like a calendar suggesting that a transient happened during a meeting, or a lower than average reading was while the user was sleeping.

Examples that Apple presented of user-set parameters include time, after taking medication, psychological or physical state as suggested by sensors, and other context triggers like not taking it while driving.

Benefits touted of the implementation include more consistent environmental factors to minimize variables that may affect the reading, as well as providing context to medical professionals who examine the data either provided by the user manually, or transmitted automatically.

As with all patent applications, the discussion of the technology is wide-reaching. It spans notifications between a wearable device straight to the user, a signal sent across any sort of networking technology like wi-fi or Bluetooth, and also covers constantly worn blood pressure cuffs actuating immediately such as those worn by patients in a health care facility of some sort.

A possible user interface element is presented in the application, with a graph of pressures and context being shown to the user.




The patent does not address HIPPA concerns about secure storage and transmission of data to providers -- but that specific of implementation may be too fine a detail for a patent application.

Apple technologies have been used for hypertension studies since the dawn of HealthKit. An early program in Louisiana used the Apple Watch and wireless blood pressure cuffs to increase the frequency of patient monitoring.

Rumors circulated shortly after the launch of the Apple Watch, that the company was investigating smart sensor bands, with blood oxygen, respiratory rate, and blood pressure all being looked at for integration.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 12
    More incursions into the personal health monitoring space please, Apple.
    airnerdwatto_cobrajony0
  • Reply 2 of 12
    How can the watch's sensors measure blood pressure? Surely some constricting cuff has to be involved?
  • Reply 3 of 12
    GeorgeBMacGeorgeBMac Posts: 2,264member
    How can the watch's sensors measure blood pressure? Surely some constricting cuff has to be involved?
    That is how peripheral blood pressure is monitored now.   But for "real" pressure you need centrally measured -- which does not involve a cuff -- but generally involves an ICU.   (So it IS possible).

    One method might be to measure the dilation of arteries during blood flow.  But that would be tricky because it can be affected in the short term by both diet and exercise:   vigorous aerobic exercise releases factors and hormones that cause both vessel dilation and constriction (depending on the vessel) while the Sausage Bisquit that follows causes constricted dilation during systole.
    king editor the grateGG1airnerd
  • Reply 4 of 12
    Rayz2016Rayz2016 Posts: 3,616member
    How can the watch's sensors measure blood pressure? Surely some constricting cuff has to be involved?
    Or a specialized watch strap?
  • Reply 5 of 12
    melgrossmelgross Posts: 30,386member
    HIPPA may have nothing to do with the taking, interpreting, and displaying of the data. HIPPA is concerned with secure storage and transmission. Those are seperate issues.
    airnerdjony0
  • Reply 6 of 12
    Misspelled HIPAA
    danvdrbeowulfschmidt
  • Reply 7 of 12
    How can the watch's sensors measure blood pressure? Surely some constricting cuff has to be involved?
    There are no physical cuffs involved.  Apple is using an algorithm that measures the time from heart beat until the blood pulse is sensed, by watch sensors, to determine pressure.  This has been done previously by others.  However, their efforts were hampered by the accuracy of their algorithm and lack of sufficient data points to increase accuracy, not to mention bulkiness of the device.  Think AI and ML possibilities when you think of the Apple Watches' future.

    Apple will be using AI/ML of the individual pulse. etc. to improve accuracy.  FDA approval for this as a medical device will probably take several years.  In the interim it can be used as a tool to alert the user to see a medical professional.  This feature is one of several Apple is working on that caused Aetna Insurance to give an Apple Watch to each of its 50,000 employees, with future plans to give an Apple Watch to each of its health insureds.

    Aetna's employee Apple Watch program has resulted in a significant improvement in employee health (just as it did for Apple employees).  I can see the day when insurers and Medicare provide heavily discounted Apple Watches to their insureds.  Watch out when that happens.
    king editor the grate
  • Reply 8 of 12
    I was extremely stupid or overly optimistic when the AppleWatch was first announced. I thought it was going to have all the sensors and ability to send plenty of health information to my PCP when the first Apple was being sold. Man, was I way off-base. That sort of data sending ability is likely going to take a long time to happen. Meanwhile, I'll just have to keep seeing my PCP every six months or so for blood tests or whatever. I'm a senior citizen so this stuff is rather crucial to me. I have my Omron blood pressure cuff and one of those devices you put on your finger to measure blood/oxygen content. Good enough. I sure wish my health insurer could get me a heavily discounted LTE AppleWatch. That would definitely be sweet.
  • Reply 9 of 12
    melgrossmelgross Posts: 30,386member
    I was extremely stupid or overly optimistic when the AppleWatch was first announced. I thought it was going to have all the sensors and ability to send plenty of health information to my PCP when the first Apple was being sold. Man, was I way off-base. That sort of data sending ability is likely going to take a long time to happen. Meanwhile, I'll just have to keep seeing my PCP every six months or so for blood tests or whatever. I'm a senior citizen so this stuff is rather crucial to me. I have my Omron blood pressure cuff and one of those devices you put on your finger to measure blood/oxygen content. Good enough. I sure wish my health insurer could get me a heavily discounted LTE AppleWatch. That would definitely be sweet.
    One does, but I don't remember which one.
  • Reply 10 of 12
    airnerdairnerd Posts: 514member
    This is the future Apple needs to keep exploring.  Let others try to put cameras and games on watches, I want to see more health related monitoring.  Even if it means more wearables, perhaps a ring that interacts with the watch.  Then branch from there beyond watches and move more into the home diagnostics, partner with CVS who is trying to do this as well.  Make blood monitoring more affordable and more simple.  Bring custom healthcare to the masses!

    Apple is probably the only company in the world that has the capital, the user base, the trust, and the world reach to be able to do this.
    bloodshotrollin'redwatto_cobra
  • Reply 11 of 12
     I thought it was going to have all the sensors and ability to send plenty of health information to my PCP when the first Apple was being sold. Man, was I way off-base

    Yeah, the system is a built unwieldy. I went through stretches of checking blood pressure and manually entering the info into the Health app, but then resorted to a series of screenshots to share the numbers with doctor. I may have missed some shortcut to send the data.

    There are times at work and on golf course that I'd really like to know my blood pressure. Of course, it would be inflated in either case since I wasn't resting.
  • Reply 12 of 12
    How can the watch's sensors measure blood pressure? Surely some constricting cuff has to be involved?
    There are no physical cuffs involved.  Apple is using an algorithm that measures the time from heart beat until the blood pulse is sensed, by watch sensors, to determine pressure.  This has been done previously by others.  However, their efforts were hampered by the accuracy of their algorithm and lack of sufficient data points to increase accuracy, not to mention bulkiness of the device.  Think AI and ML possibilities when you think of the Apple Watches' future.

    Apple will be using AI/ML of the individual pulse. etc. to improve accuracy.  FDA approval for this as a medical device will probably take several years.  In the interim it can be used as a tool to alert the user to see a medical professional.  This feature is one of several Apple is working on that caused Aetna Insurance to give an Apple Watch to each of its 50,000 employees, with future plans to give an Apple Watch to each of its health insureds.

    Aetna's employee Apple Watch program has resulted in a significant improvement in employee health (just as it did for Apple employees).  I can see the day when insurers and Medicare provide heavily discounted Apple Watches to their insureds.  Watch out when that happens.
    'Apple is using an algorithm that measures the time from heart beat until the blood pulse is sensed, by watch sensors, to determine pressure."

    Actually, that sounds more like their efforts to identify arrhythmia.   But regardless, since the Apple Watch detects a heart beat by the blood pulse, that sounds a bit circular.
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