Heart health company Cardiogram and health insurer Oscar are teaming up, letting Oscar members monitor for signs of diabetes and atrial fibrillation using wearables.
Members will need an Apple Watch, Garmin or Wear OS smartwatch to make use of Cardiogram's app, which will watch for signs of both conditions in the background as users go about their day-to-day. Should the device detect symptoms of either, users will get an alert telling them to get a medical-grade confirmatory tests - either a blood test at a nearby lab for diabetes, or a mobile ECG test (sent in the mail) for atrial fibrillation.
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These tests will be free, and if they confirm the patients have the conditions, Cardiogram will help them take the next step for treatment.
Last year, as part of a study with researchers at UC San Francisco, Cardiogram confirmed it could detect diabetes using current wearable devices. This is the first time it's putting that research into practice.
Cardiogram co-founder Brandon Ballinger said they're currently getting 97% accuracy for AFib and 85% for diabetes. However, it doesn't have FDA approval for either, and isn't looking to get it. That's why it's playing more of an advisory role, recommending users seek confirmatory tests if it detects suspect symptoms. According to Ballinger, Cardiogram will need to analyze at least one week's worth of data before making any recommendations.
As for further developing its AFib tracking in the future, Ballinger suggests Cardiogram could piggyback off the back of the Apple Watch's FDA-approved ECG - if Apple ever makes the API available for developers, that is. For now, it's relying entirely on optical data.
"I think, based on the conditions we're doing, you're always going to want to do the standard medical tests," Ballinger told me over the phone. "Not just for FDA purposes, but also for the purposes of how your doctor is going to interpret the results."
This isn't the first time we've seen tech companies team up with health providers. This year Apple partnered with Aetna, rewarding patients with an Apple Watch for healthy behavior. Fitbit has sparked up some partnerships of its own too. But Cardiogram and Oscar are coming together in a way we've not seen before, giving healthcare members the ability to screen for specific conditions.
While the Apple Watch can track for signs of AFib itself, monitoring for diabetes is an entirely different ballgame. People with diabetes often have a low heart rate variability, which is one of the key factors Cardiogram keeps an eye out for.
As for how this benefits Oscar - the provider competes in the Obamacare market, where there's an incentive program that pays insurers for every member who gets diagnosed. And Oscar pays Cardiogram to use its technology.
"This is the next step, moving out of the lab and onto your wrist," said Ballinger. Oscar healthcare members can download the Cardiogram app and link their accounts starting today.
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