As wearables become further incorporated into the mainstream, employers must weigh the potential benefits of offering the technology to employees against concerns of data security and the cost of such devices. In a study published by Pricewaterhousecoopers titled, “Health Wearables: Early Days,” the consulting firm surveyed 1,000 American consumers with questions ranging from the personal usage of wearable technology to concerns over data leaks.
The survey reported:
- 20 percent of Americans own a wearable
- 10 percent of Americans use them everyday
- 29 to 42 percent of consumers said they would be “very” or “somewhat” willing to buy a device for $100.
- 66.7 percent said they would wear a smart watch or fitness band if it was employer/insurer paid.
Overall, the report suggests that while current adoption of the technology is low, there is great interest and potential for wearable technology. Should employers choose to adopt wearable technology as a part of offered health coverage, it is recommended they provided inventive programs to further encourage usage. Ceci Connolly, managing director at PwC’s Health Research Institute, suggests,
Increasingly, individuals want to know what the insights are from the data being collected. They want the information to go to their doctor or nurse or care team so they can maybe have a better conversation around what they’re doing right, where they can improve… It’s not enough to simply have a device to count stuff. You’ve got to take it to the next level.”
The report also finds data security to be a primary concern for consumers, to which Connolly says,
One of our strong recommendations to the industry and employers is that you have got to ensure you have very strong security and privacy safeguards in place.”
The wellness industry will be faced with challenges in ensuring consumer safety as wearable devices become more popular. While there is a huge potential for the technology to eventually be tied to health benefits and a more personalized health care system, before that can happen those managing the data need to ensure they are fully in charge of what data they share and with whom it is shared.
Read more here- “Consumers Willing to Share Wearable Data for Break on Insurance Rate,” (Andrea Davis, Employee Benefit News)
Olivia is a graduate of Villanova University where she studied Economics and History, minoring in Gender and Women's Studies. She also has experience working with federal legislatures on health care policy, women's issues, and Internet safety.