Sometimes, we can be resistant to new technology. It’s human nature: that with which we feel uncomfortable, we tend to steer clear of. But with technology permeating every business sector, including healthcare, many are wondering if their wearable devices, such as emergency notification systems, is safe.
If you’re concerned, you’re not alone. Collecting health and fitness data through wearable devices is raising concerns among consumers – both seniors and their loved ones. A recent survey revealed a full 25 percent of consumers who used some sort of wearable health device, whether it was for tracking how many calories they’re burning on a daily average or aging consumers who relied on it as a safety net, stated they were concerned about the data being moved.
With new breaches reported every day, including two, one at Anthem and one at UCLA Medical School, those numbers are sure to rise. The 25 percent surprises some, “What is remarkable here is the numbers are as low as they are,” said Derek Gordon, general manager of healthcare IT at Healthline. “I would have expected the numbers to be higher.”
Then there are those who say the numbers are not higher because consumers know their data is safe. But how safe can it really be with new breaches announced almost daily? “Once their data leaves their device and goes to the cloud, there’s a greater concern about security,” said Gordon.
Even if only 25 percent worry about their devices, they should know that 45 percent are indeed worried about what happens after the information leaves their devices. But even then, they’re concerned it might be “misplaced” versus “hacked” or “stolen”
Some argue smartphones collect considerably more data than today’s wearables, because they have more sensors and apps that present their own risks. And for those worried about their wearables, some experts say it’s simply fear of the new and unknown.
There are legitimate worries, even if some insist there’s nothing to fret over. A full one third of these medical mobile apps don’t use encryption, so its data is available to anyone who can access it. Not only that, but many of the wearables share data, so even if your choice is safe, if it’s sharing data, your information is at greater risk.
We know that often, it’s seniors who are targeted in various scams, so understanding the risks are important. That’s not to say they don’t offer a great solution – they do. Due diligence matters and seniors and their families are encouraged to do a bit of research before settling on any product with sharing technology.
Experts agree that what companies should do is before aggregating the data, putting in place better encryption so that the identity of a person is never compromised. This will minimize the harm to consumers if data is compromised in a breach.
“If there’s no way to tie this data back to you, your concern of risk should be low,” said Lee Kim, director of privacy and security technology solutions at the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society. That’s crucial: it’s one of the best ways to protect your loved one’s identity and safety.