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Report: Growth in Health Wearables Could be Stunted by Cost, Privacy Concerns

October 21, 2014
by Gabriel Perna
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While the adoption of wearable devices is expected to rise, health consumers are still concerned over privacy and cost issues, according to a report. 
The report, from PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) Health Research Institute (HRI), examines consumer interest and attitude toward wearable health devices. Currently, performance of the devices is not up to consumer expectations. While 20 percent of consumers own a wearable device, 33 percent who bought one more than a year ago say they don't use it any more. 
Further, more than 80 percent of consumers are concerned that wearable technology would invade their privacy. Few consumers, PwC HRI reports, are interested in using wearables to share health data with friends and family because of these privacy concerns. Authors of the report advise manufacturers of these devices to be up front and clear on privacy policies. 
Another potential inhibitor is cost. Instead of paying for devices, consumers say they should be paid for using them. In fact, 68 percent of consumers would wear employer-provided wearables streaming anonymous data to an information pool in exchange for break on their insurance premiums.
The potential, however, is there, according to authors of the report. Vaughn Kauffman, principal, PwC Health Industries, said in a statement: “Wearable data can be used by insurers and employers to better manage health, wellness and healthcare costs, by pharmaceutical and life sciences companies to run more robust clinical trials, and by healthcare providers to capture data to support outcomes-based reimbursement. But it will be critical to address the consumer concerns that we’ve identified, such as cost, privacy, and ease of use."

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