Apple Watch in action at a major teaching hospital

How the Apple Watch is being used by real people in the real world is something iMore is paying a lot of attention to. Over the next few months we're going to be checking out several different use-cases and perspective so we can see what's working and what still needs work. To start us off, I asked my sister, a clinical and health phycologist on-staff at a major teaching hospital, what her Apple Watch is like in action. Here's what she told me:

I received my Apple Watch in late May. It was the 38mm space gray Apple Watch Sport model, and it replaced a Pebble I'd been wearing for a while. I'm not an early adopter by any means, but wearables offered to solve a very real problem for me, and the Apple Watch offered to solve them even better.I work at a teaching hospital, and many of us use Spok for our paging system. These days that's an app on my iPhone. Most dress clothing for women is criminally low on pockets and that makes carrying a phone around on in-patient wards impractical. I often have to carry a lot of other things, which means my hands can be full, and there's a very real risk of dropping my iPhone on the stairs or floor.At the same time, it's also risky not to have my iPhone with me. Even if I think I'm just running from my office to pick up something, and I'll be back in a minute, I could run into someone or get pulled into something critical that keeps me away for much, much longer. Moreover, when I'm with patients, if a page comes in, getting my phone out, opening my wallet case, unlocking, and checking the message, can be time-consuming and disruptive. The original point of pagers was to be glanceable, and I wanted to get back to that.The Pebble, which my brother gave me as a birthday gift shortly after it first came out, was my first attempt. With it, I could leave my iPhone in my office and not only still get my pages on my wrist, but also get texts from trainees if and when they needed me. I liked that the Pebble always showed the time and had long battery life, but ultimately there was little I could do to interact with the notifications, the alerts were loud and obtrusive, and it was big and bulky. So, that led me to switch to the Apple Watch.The Apple Watch isn't much lighter than the Pebble, but for a woman wearing business clothes, the aesthetics are far more pleasing. Notifications work well and I really, really like that I can quickly respond to them. That's extremely helpful. I've found notifications on the Apple Watch to be especially good when I'm at a conference, when arrangements need to be made, messages are flying back and forth, and schedules are changing all the time. The ability to keep up with all of it without having to have my iPhone constantly in front of me, or missing something when it's not, is invaluable.That you can get phone calls on your Apple Watch is brilliant. Previously, leaving my iPhone back in my office meant I missed calls. No longer. Now if I'm walking, on another floor, or even on my way somewhere and I see an important call, I can either text back or, if appropriate, answer right on my watch. Just the other day that feature helped me get to the right building and kept me from missing my shuttle. Phone calls on your watch might sound like an extravagance, but it has real benefits.I also use TripCase for travel planning, and I get notifications for that on my watch as well. Having plane and train tickets available on my watch has been incredibly convenient.Activity has been more of a mixed bag for me. I'm on my feet a lot at work as it is, so I don't always need reminders to stand up. I do want them when I'm doing paperwork, because then it is valuable for me to take a break and move around. I don't want them when I'm with a patient and can't stand up. If there was an easy way toggle them on and off for arbitrary periods of time, that would be great.I don't like wearing watches or jewelry when I work out, so I haven't been using those features. I also don't like wearing watches or jewelry when at home, so the Apple Watch is mostly a work device for me.I wish the Watch would show the time all the time. Having to twist my wrist or tap the screen to bring up the time can be awkward or inappropriate in some settings. On days when I need to see the time most of the time, I switch back to a normal watch. If Apple could figure ambient time out, the Watch would be perfection.Maps are also fantastic and one of the best things about the Apple Watch. I walk almost everywhere but have almost no sense of direction. I don't like using Maps on my iPhone because it can be a distraction or a target for theft. With the watch, because of the taps, I always know where I'm going, and I never miss a turn. I can't stress enough just how great they are.I also check alarms and weather and have even used the camera remote to take group photos. I love having calendar appointments as a complication as well. It's incredibly convenient at conferences or when you're moving around a lot. You can see where you have to be with just a glance, no fishing for iPhone or iPad required.Overall, the Apple Watch has been an amazing time-saver and convenience for me. And the more I have to do, the better it is. On my busiest days, the Apple Watch literally saves me enough time that I can take a break, grab lunch, and still care for my patients and see to my responsibilities. In that regard, it's absolutely brilliant.

Her workload would crush me in a day, so that she's getting so much utility from the Apple Watch is beyond impressive to me. If you'd be willing to share how the Apple Watch works for you, let me know in the comments!

Rene Ritchie

Rene Ritchie is one of the most respected Apple analysts in the business, reaching a combined audience of over 40 million readers a month. His YouTube channel, Vector, has over 90 thousand subscribers and 14 million views and his podcasts, including Debug, have been downloaded over 20 million times. He also regularly co-hosts MacBreak Weekly for the TWiT network and co-hosted CES Live! and Talk Mobile. Based in Montreal, Rene is a former director of product marketing, web developer, and graphic designer. He's authored several books and appeared on numerous television and radio segments to discuss Apple and the technology industry. When not working, he likes to cook, grapple, and spend time with his friends and family.

  • At Kaiser, I noticed a lot of doctors wearing the new Garmin Vivoactive watches. They obviously do less than the Apple Watch, but they seemed prevalent around Kaiser.
  • What an interesting article! It's great to get a real professional's report on her day-to-day use of Apple Watch — she gives a great account of its virtues, and is convincing on the device's room for improvement. I hope there'll be more such real-world takes on the Watch soon.
  • Apple Watch is great for people on their feet all day. I'm a farmer, and I have seen great value in wearing one.
  • Loved the article, can't wait to see the many real world uses for this wonderful device. Keep them coming ! Sent from the iMore App
  • Great idea for an article. Would love to see one regarding use case for a typical office job. I could even relate my experience working at a big manufacturing firm in quality engineering. Would mostly involve triaging emails from important contacts and stand reminders to get out of my cubicle every so often. Sent from the iMore App
  • I agree. I'm a busy pediatrician with 30-40 patients a day not counting hospital patients and hospital procedures. I really get defensive reading all these apple watch-hate articles because of how transformative it has been in my life. I used to have a real problem pacing myself while seeing patients. Now the silent timer i set before every visit lets me know if I need to refocus or schedule a visit for more time. I find with the watch, that before i did alot of wasteful talking. Now im able to better balance my conversations, so that I can stay friendly but treat the patient effectively and efficiently. My little silent timer, makes sure no one gets short changed or a patient doesnt steal from everyone else. I use it mostly hands free lifting it to a "hey siri" and then asking her to do some light multiplication and division when Im deciding medica regimens and how well infants are feeding (hey siri what is 5'8" in centimeters). That quick math at your wrist is a very nice efficiency. Throughout the day, multiple things come up where you have to reprioritize. "Hey siri, remind me at 530 pm to document Johnson discharge." The hospital sends me text messages sometimes emergent. As im seeing a patient in clinic i can quickly glance with a quick apology to my patient to see if its something i need to worry about. I run a concierge texting and email service with my patients as well and i can quickly dictate responses between rooms. Because its strapped on my wrist I dont miss reminders, my synced calendar has went from useful to integral, and i run on time actually finishing a good hour ahead of where I did prewatch. My nurses, patients, and my family is happier with my newfound efficiency and i feel best of all like it hasnt effected my medical care. They say in healthcare informatics an extra click of the computer may cost 5 cents a click. That adds up. If you consider that i make 77$ an hour currently and I now most days run 45 m to an hour faster, my employees are happier, my family and patients are happier, as am I. This watch while expensive has paid for itself many times over already. I have a deep appreciation for it given what its done for me almost to the point I get defensive when I hear and read some of the pieces about how its not user friendly, enough, how it doesnt do enough, how they couldnt find a reason to use it. It does take some tinkering in the first 24-48 hours to get notifications running how you would like, but besides that I have a hard time listening to these people. Oh, occasionally someone makes note that its not water proof. It is, they just dont say it. Its been informally tested. I shower with mine and 2 weeks ago on vacation I took it water skiing daily. This watch does for watches what the iphone did for cell phones, in my opinion it makes all others obsolete.