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  • Writer's pictureOzzie Paez

The patient's side of health monitoring

This post is the second in a series. It describes a health event experienced by an OPR researcher. He was using two wearable monitoring devices at the time, an Apple iWatch 6 and a continuous (SpO2) blood oxygen saturation-heartrate sensor. In his words:

“I WAS AWAKENED AROUND 2:30 AM BY A FUNNY FEELING IN MY CHEST. I was not experiencing pain, breathing difficulties, dizziness, sweating, or another discomfort. Body temperature was normal. There is no history of cardiovascular disease in my family, so I initially thought that it was a case of acid reflux triggered by a late meal – I was annoyed and curious more than concerned. Nevertheless, I took advantage of my wearable sensors to check heart function and related vitals as follows:

  1. Performed an ECG using my iWatch 6 which reported signs of atrial fibrillation (AFib) and high, fluctuating heart rates averaging 132 beats per minute (bpm).

  2. Reviewed SpO2 levels and they were normal, but the system validated high, fluctuating heart rates.

  3. Measured blood pressure using a prosumer cuff device which reported systolic levels 30 – 40 points above my resting normal bp.

I calmly walked around for 15 minutes, drank water, sat down for a few minutes, and repeated the tests. This time I used an alternative blood pressure measuring unit with integral ECG capture and analysis. The results from the three monitors agreed. They reported signs of AFib, high fluctuating heart rates averaging 128 bpm, normal SpO2 levels, and high blood pressure.

My training and experience kicked in at this time and I created a diary structured with content common to ER scenarios. It included recent patient history, illnesses, medicines, environmental factors like stress, and physiological data captured by my wearables. The report or log was intended to inform my primary care physician (PCP) and Emergency Department staff should I become incapacitated.

I dozed off for a few hours and then repeated the tests with similar results. The atrial fibrillation event was still underway and showed no signs of waning. I called a colleague and retired doctor at 7:30 AM and we discussed my situation. He urged me to call my PCP without delay.

I called UCHealth and spoke with a receptionist who routed the call to my doctor’s triage nurse. I shared my log notes with her and the monitors’ measurements/analysis. She arranged an appointment with another doctor in my PCP’s office for 1:30 PM. I updated my log and uploaded it to my health portal so that the doctor would have it available before I arrived.

The AFib event began to wane around noon and had resolved by the time I arrived for the visit with the doctor. The lead nurse conducted a quick checkup and wired me to a 12-channel EKG recorder. The traces were normal. My data and information, which were captured contemporaneously with the event, told a different story. The doctor reviewed them and ordered an echocardiogram. He also noticed that I had been fighting a dehydration-triggered non-Covid infection, so he prescribed antibiotics, made an appointment with a specialist, and forwarded his notes. HE DISCHARGED ME WITH SUGGESTIONS THAT I CONTINUE MONITORING MY HEART RHYTHM AND RELATED VITALS.”

The next post will focus on this event’s implications in context with our ongoing work on innovative, technologically compatible healthcare business models and strategies.


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