On June 29 2007, Apple made its mark on the world with a revolutionary innovation – the iPhone. Eight years later, the iPhone continues to dominate the market and could once again rock the consumer market with the Apple Watch. Many experts believe that the Apple Watch could be the catalyst for Wearable Health Technologies to make its way into the general public domain.
Still very much in its infancy, wearable health technologies are already garnering more attention than other forms of medical software. Despite that, it is still only wrapped around the wrists of a small minority of health enthusiast who are young and affluent. A study by Pew Foundation found that 19% of people without chronic disease track their health and 40% with one chronic disease track their health. Yet, the large proportion of wearable technology users belong to the former. It is evident that there exist opportunities for wearable technology to grow. Venture capitalists are well aware of this huge potential and by mid-2014, digital health startups have already raised $2.3 billion, more than the whole of 2013.
Investing in potential is all well and good, but it would be for naught if the industry does not take off. According to a PWC Health Research Institute (HRI) survey, just one in five Americans currently own a wearable technology product and only 10% wear it everyday. However, even though wearable technology has yet not been embraced by consumers, more are expressing interest in its technology. Nearly half of the people interviewed indicated that they may consider purchasing it in the next year.
One concern that consumers have to grapple with in regards to wearable health technologies would be the erosion of privacy. If wearable health technologies can gather so much personal data, will it be vulnerable to exploitation? Under the federal law known as HIPAA, it entails that medical providers and its business associates guard the privacy and security of such data. However, it is unclear if such law applies to wearable health technologies which appears to be outside the scope of the health reimbursement claims.
With the fervent growth of technological advancement, current trajectory indicates that wearable health technologies could well become a mainstay in healthcare. Instead of visiting doctors, we could soon be wearing them. However, policy makers will soon have to take into consideration the huge amount of data that such technologies can gather and the privacy issues that comes along with it.