By Sy Mukherjee
January 17, 2019

Hello, readers.

The specter of Big Tech’s entry into the health care space has certainly elicited plenty of ink, deserved or otherwise. In recent months, it seems like Amazon has sucked up a large part of the conversation (understandable, given the PillPack acquisition that moved it definitively, if somewhat obliquely, into the pharmaceutical space).

But the latest Apple announcement appears to feed the narrative that this other maker of our most-used products and services is going all-in on the health sector. On Thursday, the company announced a collaboration with pharma giant Johnson & Johnson to use its built-in Apple Watch EKG tech to conduct a heart health study.

Here’s what the firms had to say: “The study will investigate whether a heart health app by Johnson & Johnson, combined with Apple Watch’s irregular rhythm notifications and ECG app, can accelerate diagnosis and improve outcomes for people with atrial fibrillation. Atrial fibrillation is a condition that affects 33 million people worldwide and can lead to blood clots, stroke and heart failure. The study will be based in the U.S., the companies said, and subjects will be individuals 65 years or older.”

It’s important to note that the Apple Watch Series 4 EKG app for A-Fib isn’t technically considered an official medical device. (Those of you who own its have likely seen those notifications.) But the fact that a company like J&J is willing to hitch its wagon to the technology in a wide-ranging health study is striking – especially given the the skepticism from certain cardiologists over the potential for false positives with the Apple device. Then again, trials like these may prove to be the only legitimate way to work out such kinks.

If you have any thoughts on this, please send me a note. I’d be happy to call out the most interesting observations.

Read on for the day’s news.

Sy Mukherjee


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