Landmark Study Investigates Mobile Health Data

Lancet Digital Health
Image Credit: The Lancet

Medical researchers have typically relied on self-reported health data to establish patient metrics such as activity levels and heart rate, but a recent paper published in the Lancet by Michigan Predictive Activity & Clinical Trajectories in Health (MIPACT) aims to form a sturdier baseline for future digital health interventions.

The study is unique in its large sample size (n = 6,765) and the scale of collected information, capturing health data from underrepresented age groups, races, ethnicities, and underlying conditions.

While the preliminary results include only the first 90 days of the ongoing three-year observational study, the authors published the aggregated data to allow for comparison of groups (age, race, ethnicity, gender, body-mass index, beta-blocker use, medical conditions) to longitudinal patterns of activity, heart rate, and blood pressure data.

  • Methods – The study enrolled a diverse set of 6,765 US adults (54% women, 18% 65 or older, 17% Black, 17% Asian) of whom 10% have diabetes, 33% have hypertension, and 27% have depression. Participants were provided Apple Watches, Omron blood pressure cuffs, and a MyDataHelps smartphone app to record data on heart rate, blood pressure, step counts, and distance walked.
  • Results – A total of 200m heart rate measurements and 1.1m blood pressure readings were collected over the 90 day period. Participants 65 and older had significantly lower heart rates, while women had average resting heart rates 3 bpm higher than men. Heart rates and activity levels varied by race, ethnicity, and underlying conditions, underlining the importance of patient-specific context when interpreting data from wearables.
  • Discussion – Researchers noted that upon the study’s completion the participant data will span from before the pandemic to after its onset, enabling the evaluation of its impact on physiologic parameters due to illness and lifestyle changes.

Study Impact

Wearables have made longitudinal vitals monitoring a reality, allowing clinicians to paint a more complete picture of patient activity in daily life. As the study continues with its three-year monitoring phase, MIPACT intends to contextualize the patient data with information from EMRs and surveys, furthering its goal of creating better baselines for future digital health research. In the meantime, the authors hope that the easily navigable preliminary results will be used to improve study design and clinical recommendations.

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