Jul 6 / 2021
Latest News / Editorial/ Innovation

A smartwatch can improve your health – but research before you buy

We have become a generation that is ever more interested in numbers and statistics and when it comes to health, that is certainly a good thing

Words by Dr. Ryan Grech and Dr. Dylan Attard, Clinical & Health Tech Advisors for MedTech World and two of the co-founders of Digital Health Malta. 

For example, speaking for ourselves, we have become accustomed to tracking our daily calories, active exercise minutes and our VO2 max amongst other things on our Apple Watch. In the long run, we feel that we have become healthier as a result.

Companies have also been pushing to increase the number of metrics that their devices can collect. Whilst it is valuable at helping us monitor our health and improve it, it also opens a new portal for data that can be useful in pushing the agenda of preventative health. Data is key – for example, Apple with its iPhone can track your walking speed, step length and stair speed. Using these metrics, and as with most numbers, their trend, Apple may be able to sense even subtle changes in coordination that allows your doctors to potentially diagnose abnormalities at an earlier stage.

The market for smartwatches is on the rise. Leaders in the market keep pushing primarily, Apple, Samsung, Huawei and Garmin. Google has also been trying to infiltrate this space by acquiring Fitbit earlier this year.

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  • Smartwatches are health trackers in their own right and most people are starting to realise this. So if you or your friend are looking for a smartwatch to buy, we’ve made a list of things that you should look out for.
  • Regulatory approval – As devices venture into the realms of ECGs and SPO2 readings make sure that they are certified. These include FDA and CE certification.
  • Research backing – If you are buying your smartwatch because of the health features it offers make sure that there is research backing what is claimed by the company. To a certain extent, this goes with the above point as most of the time for the device to be FDA certified for example, the FDA would require evidence from research studies to give it the all-clear.
  • Companion App – A good companion app is essential to enable you to digest all the data that it collects. A great app also offers you suggestions on how to improve certain things. A must for some, including us, is that it allows you to export your health data. After all, it’s yours.
  • Reviews – Other users are probably going to be the best source of information. See what they say about the product, its battery life, its form factor and whether there are Bluetooth connection issues.
  • Privacy – the smartwatch is collecting health data – this is sensitive data but is also extremely sellable data. Make sure to read the T&Cs of any smartwatch and companion app that you use to see that your data is not shared with any third companies. You’d be surprised how valuable that data is to third party businesses. This is perhaps even more important with smaller companies and start-ups who may not be in a great financial position as their bigger counterparts.
  • Maybe obvious, but make sure it connects with your phone.

The above points cover important features that you as a customer should be aware of before buying your smartwatch. We will not go into the merit of which company has the best smartwatch because realistically, there is no best smartwatch out there with new products constantly coming out. If you’ve never dabbled in the world of smartwatches we advise you read up a bit more about them as they can be life-changing in the way you track and improve your health.

Med-Tech World: 18th-19th November 2021

The Med-Tech World conference, which follows a successful digital event in 2020, will run from 18th-19th November 2021 and will highlight innovations and developments in digital health across the globe. With so many countries realising the potential for exponential growth, Med-Tech World will address the opportunities and challenges driving this multi-million forum – embracing the potential for technological innovation to change the face of medicine in this global sector. Register your interest here!

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A smartwatch can improve your health – but research before you buy