After weeks of speculations and waiting, Apple finally launched its products in a special event held at Steve Jobs Theatre, California. One of the products that is being pegged to revolutionize preventive healthcare and wearable technology is the Apple Watch Series 4. The watch now has the capability to detect falls and record electrocardiograms (ECG) on a real-time basis, thus aiming at being consumers’ complete health guide.
The watch has built in electrodes, back crystal and digital crown that detect electrical impulses from a heart beat and sends it to the S4 processor, which then coverts it into signals for Apple algorithms. The whole process takes about 30 seconds and if the heartbeat is normal, it will be called a Sinus Rhythm or else an atrial fibrillation will be indicated. Apple has received de novo clearance from the FDA for the same.
We at Dataquest, recently explored on why it could be prudent to invest into preventive healthcare technology like Apple Watch Series 4 in the story “Apple Watch Series 4 Worth Rs 36,000 or Hospital Bills in Lakhs?”. An expert from the healthcare industry, however, has cast aspersions on how successful could a technology like this be in the current Indian Consumer market.
Will Apple Watch Series 4 Expected to Cost Rs 36,000 Appeal to Indians?
Artificial Technology is relatively new in the healthcare sector in India, therefore it needs to be tested out before being declared successful and people start placing their faith into it in a country like India, feels Dr. Shailendra Hegde, Vice President & Head – Clinical Services, Piramal Swasthya, Hyderabad. Piramal Swasthya through its outreach programs, provides clinical consultations to over half a million beneficiaries across India every month. “Even though Apple Watch Series 4 has received approval from FDA, a feature like ECG will have to be compared against a gold standard to test its validity and accuracy, in the Indian conditions, thoroughly before relying on it,” he said.
Also, the price tag of Rs 36,000 may be high an investment for the Indian Consumer market, as socio-economic factors come into play in a country like India with 1.2 billion population. “The age group affected by cardiovascular diseases in India is mostly over 40 years of age. I’m not sure how many of them would purchase a smart watch costing Rs. 36,000,” adds Dr. Hegde. Preventive healthcare technologies may take a few more years to work in India for another reason, which is that there is a tendency among Indian Population, especially the large rural folks, to choose curative treatment over preventive care.
“Patients usually say I will pay for treatment after I fall sick, rather than paying for preventive measures in India,” says Dr. Hegde who has also penned down a research paper regarding the same where he argues that among Indians “Health somehow doesn’t seem to be a priority, only disease seems to be”. Cardiovascular disease, which is the leading cause of deaths in India, caused more than 2.1 million deaths in India in 2015 at all ages, which was over a quarter of all deaths caused worldwide. Therefore, though it may be wise to invest into technology like the Apple Watch Series 4 is promising, there is uncertainty in the percentage of reduction in the above quoted figures that such wearable technology can lead to, added Dr. Hegde. He believes that there is a need to generate more evidence before concluding that wearable technologies will create large scale positive impact.
However, according to a report on IBEF, the 1.2 billion people that constitute the Indian market can be classified into three categories: huge middle class, relatively large affluent class and a small economically disadvantaged class, with spending anticipated to more than double by 2025. The report states that India is one of the largest growing electronic markets in the world expected to grow at 41 per cent CAGR between 2017 and 2020 to reach 400 billion dollars. The growing purchasing power and rising influence of the social media have enabled Indian consumers to splurge on good things, says the report.
So, how Indians will react to a technology like Apple Watch Series 4 can only be seen with the actual release of the product in the market. What would you as viewers say about this technology? Do you feel that preventive healthcare technology is an investment worth making? Do share your thoughts on the same.