By Cathleen Cusachs

Smartwatches seem to be getting more and more popular each year. The devices track data, some of which can be used to monitor the user’s health. The Verge talked to some healthcare experts to learn how.

Apple, Fitbit, Withings, and Samsung all have programs for their smartwatches that can detect irregular heart rhythms. When Apple Watch, specifically, detects an abnormality, it asks the user to take an EKG reading through the device. This can help doctors diagnose problems, The Verge reported. However, those interviewed also cautioned against over-reliance as false positives can happen.

Fitbit popularized the concept of wearable tech tracking fitness data, but a sports medicine specialist told The Verge that patients rarely bring that data into appointments. It’s hard to figure out what to even do with this information, when she does receive it. For many, tracking fitness might not be healthy. “You always have to ask yourself what you’re going to do with this data, and what time you’re taking away from other things to focus on it,” Dusty Marie Narducci, a sports medicine and eating disorder specialist, told The Verge.

On the flip side, Seema Khosla, medical director of the North Dakota Center for Sleep, told The Verge that patients often make appointments because their devices said something was off. The data provided can be hard for users to comprehend by themselves without a doctor. Khosla said it took her a while to figure out the usefulness, but now, she uses smartwatches largely as a conversation starter with patients. It makes it easier to explain the importance of sleep to patients. However, the data itself is not entirely accurate. Matthew Ebben, a sleep specialist at Weill Cornell Medicine, told The Verge that users are starting to recognize the limitations of these devices, as well as the benefits.

Read the full article at The Verge.

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