Australians have been waiting for two years for the Apple Watch’s ECG feature to be approved. There’s still no indication of when this will happen but the recent approval of irregular heartbeat notifications shows it could be coming soon.
Irregular rhythm notifications approved
The Apple Watches’ Irregular Rhythm Notification feature has been approved by Australia’s Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA). The public summary can be found on the TGA’s website.
This feature has been available for some time in overseas markets. It allows a user’s Apple Watch to check for irregular rhythms through its heartbeat monitoring capabilities. A notification can then be enabled which will alert the owner if their heartbeat suggests atrial fibrillation (AFib).
This feature has now been added to the Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods, which allows it to be used legally in Australia.
A word of warning from the TGA’s approval summary is that “the feature is not intended to replace traditional methods of diagnosis or treatment.” So, while irregular rhythm notifications are a useful feature, they shouldn’t be the sole basis of a diagnosis.
Gizmodo Australia has contacted the TGA and Apple to find out when this feature will be activated in Australia but unfortunately, neither could confirm a date.
Will Apple Watches finally get ECG in Australia?
The endgame is for irregular rhythm notifications and ECG tests to work together on the Apple Watch.
Should a user receive an irregular heartbeat notification they can then instantly launch the ECG app for a more in-depth test. However, ECG monitoring still has not been approved for use in Australia, years after its initial rollout.
The latest Apple Watches Series 4, 5 or 6, all arrive with this feature in-built. But as the devices plan to offer a medical recommendation, they need approval before this feature can be switched on.
Gizmodo Australia has contacted the TGA regarding ECG approval for Apple repeatedly in the past. The most recent response in September 2020, was that Apple had not yet submitted any applications for its devices to the TGA.
The Apple Watch isn’t the first smartwatch to seek approval for ECG features. In November 2020, the Withings ScanWatch was approved by the TGA for its ECG functionality.
It’s clear then that ECG watches can be used safely in Australia, but it’s unclear why Apple’s are taking so long.
The approval of irregular rhythm notifications is a promising sign for the Apple Watch. While its full potential won’t be unlocked until ECG is also implemented, this is the first clear indicator in some time that Apple is working on getting these features approved in Australia.