Apple Watch tracking app guides CEO of health IT firm on fitness runs

The CEO of a secure clinical communications vendor uses his Apple Watch to track fitness runs, but is moving slowly on his company developing its own app for the watch.

Terry Edwards, president and CEO of PerfectServe, Inc., depends on the Apple Watch tracking function to gauge distance and pace on his fitness runs.

But while he likes the Apple Watch tracking app, Edwards isn't convinced his company's secure clinical communications technology needs a smartwatch app platform just yet, though PerfectServe does serve up notifications on the watch.

The Knoxville-based businessman got his watch -- an entry-level sport model with a matte black finish and black plastic strap -- to replace his old Jawbone wearable tracker a few months after the watch first came out in April 2015.

"The real driver of it was one of our early adopter physician clients," Edwards said. "He went out and bought it like the day it came out, and said, 'You gotta write an app for this thing.'"

"And I said, let me get one, and I'll, you know, see how it works," Edwards said, adding that there are already a number of apps on the watch that he thinks aren't all that effective.

Edwards said PerfectServe may someday develop a native app for the Apple Watch, but in the meantime the watch's tracking effectiveness for his three-to-five times a week running habit is already there.

Terry Edwards (credit: Terry Edwards)Terry Edwards

The Apple Watch tracking technology comes into play on runs on the wide boulevards and gentle hills of Edwards' West Knoxville subdivision, where Edwards, 54, uses the device's Activity app to monitor not only distance, but also his heart rate, and adjust his pace accordingly.

On these runs, Edwards stows his Apple iPhone in a special running belt. The phone is tethered to the watch via Bluetooth, and Edwards listens to podcasts or motivational recordings as he piles up the steps.

Sometimes, he'll slow to a walk and hold phone conversations using his corded or wireless mic-equipped Bose headphones.

I know if I’m getting a certain amount of steps in, I'm just going to feel better.
Terry Edwards, president and CEO of PerfectServe

Edwards also often jogs on his treadmill.

Edwards, who has been running for fun and fitness since high school, also uses the trendy smartwatch on non-running days. He might be in Manhattan or Chicago and just be walking around a lot and traipsing through airports on company business; on those days he often exceeds his 10,000 daily step goal.

"I know if I'm getting a certain amount of steps in, I'm just going to feel better," Edwards said.

Edwards also tracks his weight on a smart scale from French health tech vendor Withings SA, and links the weekly weight readings to his watch to get a more holistic view of his overall health.

In between runs and walks, Edwards is focused on signing on health systems to his company's PerfectServe Synchrony system, which integrates secure mobile and web-based text, voice and photo and video sharing for clinical care workgroups.

Even though Edwards thinks Apple has improved its Siri voice recognition technology to the point at which the watch has become a useful wearable voice-to-text tool, he said voice-based applications are often not great in noisy clinical settings.

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