Why CIOs must start building wearables infrastructure

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Ensuring user privacy and keeping customer data safe must become non-issues before the healthcare industry will fully embrace mHealth wearables, according to new industry research.

The Forrester report reveals 21 percent of consumers are now using a wearable to track health and wellness activity, and the data is providing a much more accurate depiction of a user's healthcare status. But challenges such as meeting HIPAA mandates and regulatory compliance on data storage must be solved before the data gathered via Internet of Things (IoT) technologies, such as wearables, can be leveraged for full benefit.

"While, in theory, clinicians should be rushing to promote these devices and incorporate the data from them into care methods, the reality is that there are significant impediments before they can use it," Kate McCarthy, a Forrester senior analyst serving chief information officers, writes in the report.

For CIOs, the scenario requires planning, strategy and establishing an infrastructure to ensure user privacy. However, they also must allow wearables' data to be available and fed into healthcare record systems and patient care records in real time.

"New devices will enter the market and bring us closer to a 360-degree view of a patient. With every round of innovation, these devices bring us closer to having total transparency into a patient's life that before was available only via what the patient explained," McCarthy writes.

The report also notes how wearables are advancing beyond just tracking steps taken. Advancements in this space include wristbands that can help epileptics by warning of impending seizures and devices that can help patients battling depression, FierceMobileHealthcare has previously reported. 

Yet many providers and payers are avoiding using wearable data in the healthcare ecosystem given the privacy and data protection concerns, the report adds. 

To that end, wearables pose a "whole different level of security and privacy concern," Stephen Cobb, senior security researcher at ESET, previously told HealthcareInfoSecurity.com.

"A lot of the data is fairly benign, but the architecture within which these devices operate ... it introduces multiple points where potentially sensitive, private information could be intercepted and stolen," he said.

For more information:
- read the Forrester report

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