SAN FRANCISCO — The year was 2007. To raucous applause, Apple CEO Steve Jobs proudly strode across the Macworld stage to reveal a device that would change history: the iPhone, the first mobile phone to be more tablet than telephone. The same year, a small digital health startup called American Well connected its first patients and doctors online.
So it felt especially appropriate, in the eyes of CEO Roy Schoenberg, for the Boston-based telemedicine company to be selected last year as a key research partner for the Apple Heart Study, the iPhone maker’s most ambitious health research project to date. The study was designed to see whether the Apple Watch and its heart-rate sensor could properly spot irregularities in people’s heartbeat. American Well linked study participants who got a confirmed abnormal reading to remote clinicians with whom they could talk through their diagnosis.