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A National Center for Biotechnology Information Study concluded that the Apple Watch benefits clinicians and individuals with Sickle Cell Disease


The National Library of Medicine this week posted an article titled "Predicting Pain in People With Sickle Cell Disease in the Day Hospital Using the Commercial Wearable Apple Watch: Feasibility Study."

The article's Abstract stated that "Sickle cell disease (SCD) is a genetic red blood cell disorder associated with severe complications including chronic anemia, stroke, and vaso-occlusive crises (VOCs). VOCs are unpredictable, difficult to treat, and the leading cause of hospitalization. Recent efforts have focused on the use of mobile health technology to develop algorithms to predict pain in people with sickle cell disease. Combining the data collection abilities of a consumer wearable, such as the Apple Watch, and machine learning techniques may help us better understand the pain experience and find trends to predict pain from VOCs.

Objectives: The aim of this study is to (1) determine the feasibility of using the Apple Watch to predict the pain scores in people with sickle cell disease admitted to the Duke University SCD Day Hospital, referred to as the Day Hospital, and (2) build and evaluate machine learning algorithms to predict the pain scores of VOCs with the Apple Watch.

Methods: Following approval of the institutional review board, patients with sickle cell disease, older than 18 years, and admitted to Day Hospital for a VOC between July 2021 and September 2021 were approached to participate in the study. Participants were provided with an Apple Watch Series 3, which is to be worn for the duration of their visit. Data collected from the Apple Watch included heart rate, heart rate variability (calculated), and calories. Pain scores and vital signs were collected from the electronic medical record. Data were analyzed using 3 different machine learning models: multinomial logistic regression, gradient boosting, and random forest, and 2 null models, to assess the accuracy of pain scores. The evaluation metrics considered were accuracy (F1-score), area under the receiving operating characteristic curve, and root-mean-square error (RMSE).

Results: We enrolled 20 patients with sickle cell disease, all of whom identified as Black or African American and consisted of 12 (60%) females and 8 (40%) males. There were 14 individuals diagnosed with hemoglobin type SS (70%). The median age of the population was 35.5 (IQR 30-41) years. The median time each individual spent wearing the Apple Watch was 2 hours and 17 minutes and a total of 15,683 data points were collected across the population. All models outperformed the null models, and the best-performing model was the random forest model, which was able to predict the pain scores with an accuracy of 84.5%, and a RMSE of 0.84.

Conclusions: The strong performance of the model in all metrics validates feasibility and the ability to use data collected from a noninvasive device, the Apple Watch, to predict the pain scores during VOCs. It is a novel and feasible approach and presents a low-cost method that could benefit clinicians and individuals with sickle cell disease in the treatment of VOCs. Source

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