In June, Apple revealed watchOS 4 at its Worldwide Developers Conference. Among other features, the big announcement was that it featured Dexcom, makers of the G5 Continuous Glucose Monitor (CGM).
This is always a big event, not only for Apple, but for the partnership companies. It is a big deal when a smaller company gets chosen for an Apple partnership, and usually results in a stock boost for the smaller firm. One commentator likened these agreements to ramoras attaching to a giant whale.
The exciting announcement is terrific news for Dexcom and for people with diabetes who are already big fans of Dexcom’s iPhone application. But more than that, it is a clear signal from Apple that serious medical companies can develop IoT devices and apps that work within Apple’s framework to achieve usable data analytics and promote user adoption.
For medtech developers, this could be the opportunity they have been waiting for. That’s because the framework unleashes an opportunity for continuous tracking. And continuous tracking is something that has been sorely missing from medical data collection.
Apple products usually have intermittent breaks in data collection, making vital metric readings that require continuous monitoring difficult—actually, impossible. Many medtech firms that require continuous data collection have opted to use Android products, which can be adapted to continuous collection needs.
In Dexcom’s case, users have already been able to view glucose readings, trend arrows and trend graphs on the Watch by syncing the Dexcom G5 mobile application to the Watch. However, if the user’s phone is dead, out of range, or disconnected from bluetooth, there is no way to see the data on the wearable Watch.
With direct support for Dexcom G5 glucose sensor on the watch, the information won’t need to pass through an iPhone application, meaning if a diabetic forgets their iPhone, but still has the Apple watch (with CoreBluetooth for iOS4, he or she will still be able to tap into health tracking.
Dexcom will still need to submit a new app to FDA to ensure the device works as promised. CEO Kevin Sayer told Jordan Kahn at 9to5Mac that the Gen 6 GCM platform is next. It will feature different hardware, a lower profile for the body worn part of the sensor. Sayer predicted FDA filing for Gen 6 in September.
The system also paves the way for AliveCor, which announced earlier this year that it has created heart monitoring watch bands. Adding sensors to the bands is the next logical step to intro more sensor capabilities
There may still be a few lingering questions for medtech developers. One company I spoke with wondered whether the system would enable access to critical features if and when the Apple watch goes to sleep—such edge computing functions may still not be available.
Nonetheless, in partnering with consumer companies that have avid adopters and brand loyalty, medtech can tap into ensuring that their critical, lifesaving medical technologies are used. This is part of the long-term strategy to make wearables even more valuable and critical to manage lifestyle and health.
Product Creation Studio is pleased to bring you exclusive, on-going content by Heather Thompson, a senior editor for Medical Design & Outsourcing and former editor-in-chief of MD+DI magazine. With 15 years of experience covering medical technologies and FDA regulations, Heather specializes in delivering the latest trends and news in the medical device industry.