Apple Inc., Eli Lilly and Company and Evidation Health Inc., joined hands to conduct the successful study on early detection of MCI (Measures of Cognitive Impairment) and Dementia taking help of Apple’s smartphone, smartwatch, tablet devices.
According to the study titled: Developing Measures of Cognitive Impairment in the Real World from Consumer-Grade Multimodal Sensor Streams, about 5.7 million Americans and 46.8 million people worldwide are afflicted with Dementia that costs approximately $1 trillion. Its early detection is considered as a clinical challenge and often time-consuming.
Apple iPhone, iPad and Apple Watch Used in the Dementia Research
Dementia is a type of cognitive impairment which causes one to forget about places, names or events, affecting memory and thinking. It is symptomatic by nature, whereas Alzheimer’s is a disease that is degenerative, and irreversible. Early symptoms of the onset of Dementia are subtle, insidious, and easily dismissed as ‘normal aging.’
During the study, the team used Apple iPhone, Apple Watch and iPad to help monitor the patients who underwent the program. Conducted around December 2017 through August 2018, 123 potential patients got screened out of the total 138, at 12 centers across the United States.
Each participant was provided an Apple wearable consumer devices and mobile-computing platforms like an iPhone 7 plus (to be used as their primary phone), an Apple Watch Series 2, a 10.5″ iPad Pro with a smart keyboard, and a Beddit sleep monitoring device along with apps to collect all sensor and app-usage events.
In May 2017, Apple had acquired the popular iOS sleep tracking platform and hardware maker Beddit. Thus Apple devices with this particular sleep monitoring App played a critical role in the successful conduct of this study.
All the Apple devices helped researchers monitor over a 12 week study period their health parameters on regular basis avoiding conventional methods that would have posed serious questions on appropriate monitoring.
The report said, “In this work, we present a platform for remote and unobtrusive monitoring of symptoms related to cognitive impairment using several consumer-grade smart devices. We demonstrate how the platform has been used to collect a total of 16TB of data during the Lilly Exploratory Digital Assessment Study, a 12-week feasibility study which monitored 31 people with cognitive impairment and 82 without cognitive impairment in free living conditions.”
Picture of End-to-end data flow. Adapted from “Clinical Trials Transformation Initiative (CTTI) Recommendations: Advancing the Use of Mobile Technologies for Data Capture & Improved Clinical Trials”. Released July 2018
The results of the study pointed at the following:
- Slower typing: Symptomatic participants tended to have slower typing than healthy controls. These results are in line with previous work, and maybe the result of impaired fine motor control, difficulties with language, or both.
- Less regularity and later first steps: In general, symptomatic individuals exhibited less routine behavior compared to healthy controls, which likely correspond to picking up the phone for the first time and setting down the phone for the last time each day, respectively.
- Fewer text messages: Symptomatic participants received fewer text messages in total (and per day) and had a lower interquartile range of daily outgoing messages.
- Greater reliance on helper apps: Symptomatic individuals spent more total time in the Clock app than healthy controls and were more likely to view or access Siri’s app suggestions.
- Poorer survey compliance: Symptomatic individuals answered the daily one-question surveys less often than healthy controls and, when they did respond, tended to respond later in the day.
In a statement to CNBC, Evidation co-founder Christine Lemke said, “With this research, we looked at how everyday behavior data, such as those captured by iPhones, Apple Watches, and Beddit sleep monitors, may be effective in differentiating between individuals with mild cognitive impairment and early Alzheimer’s disease, and those without symptoms.”
Apple Products Contributing for Various Studies and Health App Creation To Benefit Users
The above study proves the Cupertino major and its products ability to monitor health vitals and contribute for human welfare, at large.
Recently, Apple collaborated with Google, Microsoft and Medicaid agencies for Carin Blue Button Health App, to be available in the US for trial by the year-end.
Medical fraternity can turn to such wearable consumer devices and mobile-computing platforms to study or monitor health of patients from remote locations and at all times as researchers found during this study.
Only time will tell how invasive or intrusive technology can help better monitor vitals and improve patient care and health to prove their worth.