Apple and Eli Lilly studying if iPhones and Apple Watches can detect signs of dementia

Apple has teamed up with Eli Lilly on new research to detect evidence of brain decline by using data from iPhones and Apple Watches.

Christina Farr and Kif Leswing for CNBC:

Apple has been adding health features to its iPhone and smartwatch, and is now working with Eli Lilly to see if data from the devices can help spot early signs of dementia.

According to research published this week, the two companies teamed up with health-tech start-up Evidation to find ways to more quickly and precisely detect cognitive impairments like Alzheimer’s disease with the help of popular consumer gadgets. The study, which will be discussed on Thursday at a conference in Alaska [SIGKDD Conference 2019], is the first to publicly link Apple and Eli Lilly. Of the 15 authors of the paper, five work for each company with the other five representing Evidation.

“With this research, we looked at how everyday behavior data, such as those captured by iPhones, Apple Watches, and Beddit sleep monitors, may be effective in differentiating between individuals with mild cognitive impairment and early Alzheimer’s disease, and those without symptoms,” Evidation co-founder Christine Lemke told CNBC… The researchers said there are limitations to the study, which didn’t draw any long-term conclusions because more analysis is needed. There’s also the risk of presenting results to patients because of the increased anxiety it can cause. Plus, the authors write, there’s not much people can do to stem the decline.

MacDailyNews Take: If these methods could detect dementia earlier, hopefully that might lead to new breakthroughs in treatment.

Apple CEO Tim Cook has said that Apple’s greatest contribution to mankind will be in health:

On the healthcare, in particular, and sort of your wellbeing, this is an area that I believe, if you zoom out into the future, and you look back, and you ask the question, “What was Apple’s greatest contribution to mankind?” It will be about health. Because our business has always been about enriching people’s lives. And as we’ve gotten into healthcare more and more through the Watch and through other things that we’ve created with ResearchKit and CareKit and putting your medical records on the iPhone, this is a huge deal. And it’s something that is very important for people. We are democratizing it. We are taking what has been with the institutions and empowering the individual to manage their health. And we’re just at the front end of this. But I do think, looking back, in the future, you will answer that question, Apple’s most-important contribution to mankind has been in health. — Tim Cook, January 8, 2019

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