The University of Michigan is collaborating with Apple on a research study with 1,000 people already enrolled through its health system to discover if data collected on Apple Watch, combined with other health information, can provide more information for doctors about a patient's health, wellness and risk for disease.
"This study is a unique opportunity to work with patients to gain insight into their daily and overall health status, providing a wealth of data that can be used for research that benefits everyone and advances health care," Dr. Marschall Runge, university executive vice president for medical affairs and dean of the UM Medical School, said in a statement.
The three-year observational study, called MIPACT (Michigan Predictive Activity and Clinical Trajectories), began last September in a pilot study. Plans are to enroll thousands more patients of Michigan Medicine, UM's academic medical center, over the next year, said study lead Dr. Sachin Kheterpal, the medical school's associate professor of anesthesiology.
Kheterpal said more than 40 UM researchers and staff are working on the project in clinical trials, software development, project management, recruiting and enrollment. The number of Apple staff working on the study was unavailable.
"Currently, all new participants are being offered a Series 4 Apple Watch," Kheterpal said in an email to Crain's. "Participants wear the watch, obtain home blood pressure readings and perform a guided breathing task two times a day."
In the beginning, each research participant donates a blood sample for routine laboratory testing. They are then sent survey questions through an app on their iPhone on a variety of health topics during the study. There are no treatment or control groups in the observational study, he said.
What can the study tell about people's health, wellness and chronic disease?
"The goal of the study is to understand the relationship between biosensors, health information and health outcomes. By asking participants to wear an Apple Watch and use a blood pressure monitor, we will be able to better understand their daily health and level of activity," Kheterpal said.
"Whether or not we will be able to predict the development of a chronic disease using these data remains to be determined and is one of the goals of the study."
But the research also will help doctors and patients learn how to interpret these daily data. "While we are not driving changes in management of these diseases in the current study, the data we collect and the participant community we develop will be the foundation for future studies designed to change disease management and wellness maintenance," Kheterpal said.
"With the breadth of scientific expertise at the University of Michigan, we are uniquely positioned to explore how to integrate knowledge gained across participant surveys, medical records, wearables, genomics, and lab tests to better understand daily experiences and long-term health, while ensuring safe use of this information."
MIPACT, which is part of the precision health initiative at UM, has enrolled 60,000 participants over the past six years of the Michigan Genomics Initiative. Precision health is aimed at predicting and preventing disease through the use of health data.
The Michigan Genomics data has been used to understand the biological and social underpinnings of diseases such as persistent opioid use, abnormal heart rhythms and cancer.
Kheterpal said UM and Apple have invested "substantial time and resources" into the research project, but he declined to disclose how much funding. UM disclosed that some researchers hold Apple stock and may purchase or sell stock during the study period.
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