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Apple Watch joins clinical study of hip and knee replacements

Feedback from patients will be combined with continuous health and activity data from the Apple Watch.

Sarah Tew/CNET

A new app for the iPhone and Apple Watch wants to improve communication between patients and surgeons before and after knee and hip surgery. 

The Mymobility app, launched Monday by Apple and orthopedic manufacturer Zimmer Biomet, lets patients send and receive messages for surgeons and care teams. It also allows patients to access exercise videos and reminders. 

Surgeons and care teams can also use the app to track and deliver data about patients and send therapy reminders to patients' Apple Watches. In addition, they can monitor patients' activity levels as they prepare for and recover from surgery.   


The Mymobility app, along with the Apple Watch, wants to help connect patients and surgeons. 

Zimmer Biomet

"We believe one of the best ways to empower consumers is by giving them the ability to use their health and activity information to improve their own care," Jeff Williams, chief operating officer at Apple, said in a statement. "We are proud to enable knee and hip replacement patients to use their own data and share it with their doctors seamlessly, so that they can participate in their care and recovery in a way not previously possible through traditional in-person visits. This solution will connect consumers with their doctors continuously, before and after surgery."

More than a million knee and hip replacements happen every year in the US, according to Zimmer Biomet. That number could jump to 3.5 million by 2035, the company said.

Zimmer Biomet is also launching a clinical study examining the impact Mymobility has on patient outcomes and the cost of joint replacements. For the study, patients getting a knee or hip replacement will use the app with the Apple Watch, which will be provided to them. Their feedback will be combined with continuous health and activity data from the Watch. The study, which launched Monday, could have as many as 10,000 participants in the US, Zimmer Biomet said. 

The company's partnership with Apple comes as the iPhone maker works to make its Watch a full-fledged health device rather than just a fitness tracker. The launch of the Apple Watch Series 4 saw the introduction of a new electrocardiogram (or EKG) feature, which measures electric activity in the heart to detect heart diseases and irregular heartbeats. More consumers are interested in smartwatches that can monitor health, according to an IDC report last month. That report also placed the Apple Watch at the top of the smartwatch market in the second quarter.

Apple unveiled the Apple Watch Series 4 at an event in September alongside the new iPhone XS, XS Max and XR. The Series 4 marks the Watch's first big redesign, including a larger display and subtle haptic feedback in the digital crown.

First published Oct. 15, 1:20 p.m. PT.
Update, Oct. 16 at 6:56 a.m. PT: Adds more background on the Apple Watch.

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