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COVID-19 to boost healthcare wearables uptake, but consumer protection concerns remain, says GlobalData

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Any data relating to health must be treated with extra care

The health and fitness wearables that monitor physiological parameters such as heart rate, body temperature, sleeping patterns, blood pressure and oxygen saturation levels may become an effective early-warning system to detect COVID-19 if regulatory, safety and consumer protection requirements are addressed, says GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company.

Urte Jakimaviciute, Senior Director, Market Research, commented, “Wearables technology could become a game-changer in diagnosing COVID-19 due to its ability to detect an infection at the early stages. By measuring parameters such as heart rate, the general level of activity, skin temperature and sleep, wearable technology can spot COVID-19 symptoms and warn users. Given the highly contagious nature of the virus, early detection could prove crucial in minimising its spread while economies reopen and social distancing measures are scaled back.”

However, with the growing uptake of wearables technologies, any data relating to health must be treated with extra care. For these devices to be effective, they must be safe and accurate.

Jakimaviciute continues, “While wearable technology can provide significant help in the fight with COVID-19, health and fitness wearables are not yet accurate enough to detect COVID-19 symptoms at medical levels of precision. Wearables specifically designed for medical purposes are produced to adhere to regulatory requirements and it would be false to assume that consumer-grade devices such as fitness trackers or apps would be able to accurately medically diagnose users anytime soon.

“Aside from regulatory considerations, privacy issues are another area of concern. The increasing usage of health and fitness wearables means that users are trusting these devices with their sensitive health-related information, bringing data privacy and safety questions to the forefront, ” Jakimaviciute said.

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