Data privacy concerns hamper adoption, use of personal medical devices

While Americans think consumer tech is driving more connected relationships with their providers, they also see voice technology and AI with a skeptical eye.
By Nathan Eddy
11:04 AM

Despite the push towards healthcare digitalization and the rise of personal medical devices, just 38 percent of Americans believe proper safeguards are in place to protect their personal health data, according to recent survey of more than 1,000 American adults.

In addition, more than 60 percent of survey respondents pointed to privacy-related issues, such as data breaches, as having deterred them from using telemedicine or wearable fitness trackers, according to the survey, from market research firm Kantar.

More than a quarter of respondents to the poll said they didn’t even know whether proper data safeguards were in place, and 36 percent said they don’t believe those safeguards are in place.

The study also found that while Americans think technology is driving a more connected relationship with healthcare providers and allows them to be more “in-touch” with their personal healthcare, consumers are viewing technologies like voice-technology and artificial intelligence with a skeptical eye.

For example, voice technology is still in its infancy in relation to consumer healthcare, with very few Americans using Google Home products, or voice-driven devices such as Amazon’s Alexa-enabled devices, to find answers about an illness or health issues.

The study found just 11 percent have used voice technology to call a healthcare provider, and just 14 percent used voice technology to set a reminder to take medication, while only 13 percent have used voice technology to manage a fitness routine.

Meanwhile, the view towards AI technologies appeared more favorable, with half of survey respondents agreeing or “strongly agreeing” that AI would be have a positive impact helping prevent health epidemics.

Likewise, half of respondents said they believe AI could help develop better drugs or treatment plans, and 57 percent said the technology could help predict personal health issues.

Trust issues surfaced again concerning implantable medical devices, although Americans appeared more willing to use them personally rather than judge them appropriate for family members or loved ones.

Just under half (47 percent) said they would consider using an implantable device to manage medical conditions, chronic pain to improve quality of life, however less than a quarter said they would consider one for a spouse or loved one – a number that dropped to 14 percent for children and grandparents.

In November, a federally funded study by Johns Hopkins Medicine researchers, published in the October issue of The Journal of Gerontology: Medical Sciences, indicated wearable devices such as fitness trackers, smart health watches, heart rate monitors and GPS tracking devices are more effective than patient surveys and other methodologies in providing key predictors of mortality.

Nathan Eddy is a healthcare and technology freelancer based in Berlin.
Email the writer:
Twitter: @dropdeaded209

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