Monitoring Our Health With Smartwatches

Once geared toward fitness enthusiasts, Fitbits, Apple Watches and other wearable sensors are gaining a foothold in the medical realm. Whether keeping an eye on the heart, tracking seizures or glucose levels, or surveying for viral infections, the devices hold promise as a way to gather valuable information that could guide health-related decisions. But how much can they tell you? How reliable are they? And how do you bridge the gap between just wearing a sensor and taking action — from going to the ER to making longer-term lifestyle changes? Join us for a discussion with two leading experts on the promise and pitfalls of the technologies that may already be on a wrist near you.

Tune in to learn more, and get your questions answered.


Mitesh S. Patel, Perelman School of Medicine and the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania

Dr. Patel is director of the Penn Medicine Nudge Unit, the world’s first behavioral design team embedded within a health system. His research focuses on combining insights from behavioral economics with scalable technology platforms to improve health and health care. He has led more than 25 clinical trials in partnership with health systems, insurers, employers and community organizations that tested ways to design nudges, incentives and gamification to change clinician and patient behavior. This work includes digital health interventions using wearable devices and smartphones, and health system interventions using the electronic health record.

Jessilyn Dunn, Duke University

Dr. Dunn is the director of the BIG IDEAs Laboratory, whose goal is to detect, treat and prevent chronic and acute diseases through digital health innovation. Her research focuses on biomedical data science and mobile health and includes multi-omics, wearable sensors, and electronic health record integration and digital biomarker discovery. She also leads the CovIdentify study to detect and monitor COVID-19 using mobile health technologies. Dunn was a visiting scholar at the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and at the National Cardiovascular Research Institute in Madrid, Spain.

Moderator: Rachel Ehrenberg, Associate Editor, Knowable Magazine

Rachel has been covering science and technology for nearly 20 years. She has a master’s degree in evolutionary biology from the University of Michigan and a graduate certification in science communication from the University of California, Santa Cruz. In 2013-2014, she was a Knight Science Journalism Fellow at MIT.

This event is part of Reset: The Science of Crisis & Recovery, an ongoing series of live events and science journalism exploring how the world is navigating the coronavirus pandemic, its consequences and the way forward. Reset is supported by a grant from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.

Knowable Magazine is a product of Annual Reviews, a nonprofit publisher dedicated to synthesizing and integrating knowledge for the progress of science and the benefit of society. Major funding for Knowable comes from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.