Challenges of User-Generated Data

Read Part I of this blog series on wearables in healthcare

Read Part II of this blog series on wearables in healthcare

As I mentioned in the first part of this blog series, wearables have become more than a passing trend and are truly changing the way people and organizations think about managing health. I hear from many companies and customers who want to understand how the wearables market is impacting patient care as well as some of the changes taking place with providers, insurers, and employers. In this blog series, I'll share some of their questions and my responses. This blog’s question is:

What are the primary challenges that companies face in collecting, analyzing, and sharing data generated by wearables?

Data integration and technology interoperability pose challenges. Data in healthcare is still very siloed. In most cases, the provider owns and maintains the electronic health record, the payer the claims data. Lab and prescription data are in their own systems. It’s difficult to access this data where it resides and pull it into a unified repository. Some of the leading electronic healthcare record vendors have built adaptors to pull in some fitness and wellness data. However, a lot of the wearable manufacturers compound the problem by being very insular and not offering an easy API for transferring the data. And there are no standards in place for wearables data. So it can be challenging to integrate patient generated data into traditional healthcare applications.

However, with healthcare today, one can argue there are bigger fish to fry than wearables when it comes to interoperability.

Another big issue is privacy: how will the data be used? When you start tying wearable data to corporate wellness programs and health plans, there is natural concern by employees and members wondering if the data can be used against them. The successful programs are often opt-in, and some include financial incentives or lower premiums if certain performance milestones are reached. Those are the “carrots” that will get people to participate. I have not heard of an example where employees are required to participate in wearing devices, but I imagine that would be less successful.

What questions about data do you have?