AMA CIO urges Apple to tread carefully with Medicare plans

Physicians are skeptical of whether Apple's reputed move into the private Medicare market will truly improve medical care for seniors, according to the Politico Morning eHealth newsletter.

Apple reportedly is in talks with at least three private Medicare plans about subsidizing the cost of its Apple Watch — which runs from $279 to $399 — for plan members over age 65, CNBC reported Jan. 16.

This program could be beneficial for seniors, since the newest Apple Watch includes features such as fall detection and an electrocardiogram to detect atrial fibrillation.

However, physicians expressed concern to Politico that these Apple Watch features hadn't been adequately studied. The EKG feature, for example, could result in false positives. They also noted the smartwatch detects falls, but doesn't have capabilities to predict or prevent them.

Michael Hodgkins, MD, CIO of the American Medical Association, told Politico Apple should work to "demonstrate both the safety and objectivity" of its alerts and their ability to cut costs before entering the Medicare market.

"Is it going to create more emergency room visits ... or fewer?" Dr. Hodgkins asked. "It's not clear to me."

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