I took the plunge into the wearable device pool two weeks ago, getting myself a tool that promises to help track my activity levels and sleep patterns while offering insight on how best I can develop a healthier lifestyle. Sadly, though, my initial feedback is more negative than positive. And given all I hear about the promise of wearables to transform healthcare--and the federal government's recent push to incentivize doctors to use more patient-generated data via such devices in their efforts--this is not a good sign.
There is a startling, and greatly disappointing, research report out regarding healthcare insurance companies and mobile app development. In a simple summary, this how the report describes such efforts: Epic fail.
Monday was a big day for Apple. But not such a big day for those of us eager to discover what Apple can do when it comes to developing an mHealth wearable device. That's because for the most part, we still don't know what Apple can do with wearable mHealth tech. Apple's Watch, available next month, barely offers what could be described as mHealth functionality.
While healthcare facilities are slowly issuing mobile devices to staff and caregiver teams, it's not happening as rapidly as some would like. To that end, many healthcare professionals increasingly are tapping their own personal smartphones and mobile computing devices to help them do their jobs.
That, however, creates a big problem: the security issue (or lack thereof) when it comes to the information being shared, patient data being stored, images being housed, etc. One lost device, one misstep in emailing confidential data, a laptop stolen from a locker or a nurse's station means tremendous liability and legal headaches, not to mention the fallout in consumer trust.
Before the Federal Trade Commission or Food and Drug Administration tackle another mobile health technology investigation, the two federal agencies--both of which are charged with protecting consumers--need to huddle up in a conference room, lock the door and not come out until they produce a clear map of what they're responsible for when it comes to oversight and regulating such tools.
Why? Because right now it's getting quite difficult to figure out who's keeping on eye on the shallow end of the mobile health technology pool and who's watching the deep end.
Sometimes when it comes to technology and all that's happening with mobile tech and mHealth tools, one can get mired down in the muck of hype, hyperbole, snazzy phrases and clichés (don't get me started on my pet peeve with 'at the end of the day' still pitched out by vendors and 'visionaries'). But every now and then, someone--typically in the frenzy of actually advancing mHealth--says exactly the perfect phrase to define a mobile health strategy in the most concise and clear way.
The new year is bringing a steady stream of insight, opinions and viewpoints on what it will take for mHealth apps and devices to take deep root this year, and it all appears to hinge on one consistent element: consumer trust.
There's no denying it's an exciting time for wearables in the healthcare environment. From those early simplistic fitness bands to today's increasingly feature rich smart watches and smart clothing--as well as impending smart ear buds and ingestible wearables--wearable tracking and monitoring devices have come a long way in a short time. They likely are one of the first Internet of Things technologies taking fast and deep root.
At the same time, concern regarding collection of user data and consumer privacy is growing.
To say it's been a busy few months regarding regulatory actions in the healthcare space would be an understatement. To that end, I don't believe it would be sensationalistic to predict this may be a year in which federal agencies make landmark decisions and establish strategies and historical markers when it comes to mHealth technology oversight.