Have you checked the wrists of the people you are around? Chances are that they, and perhaps you, are wearing data gather devices aimed at tracking steps, heart rate and calories burned. For those fitness conscious, or looking to improve their health, these new fashion accessories are a means of confirming all of the activity done in a day.
For some, however, the data stored in these fitness bands may serve as a gold-mind of health information. Wearable technology may demonstrate whether or not the wearer is sedentary, the frequency and intensity of any activity and whether there is a point in time when activity wanes or completely stops. This information may be useful to life care planners, insurance companies and physicians involved in evaluating the quality of an individual’s lifestyle before and after a traumatic event or injury. Courts will soon be asked to determine whether data from these wearable devices can be disclosed in litigation to evaluate the activity of the parties involved.
HIPAA regulations do not currently specifically describe how this health data should be protected, by whom and upon what instances may it be released. Clearly, users want their data protected but what happens to those situations where users share information for purposes of fitness challenges? Does the data still deserve protection when the user has already posted a picture of the information on social media? Even if the data is disclosed, how reliable is it if the user does not routinely sync and save the activities?
The more private an end-user keeps his or her information, the more likely a court will want to limit disclosure of the information. It is not a far stretch to have companies asking for information for injured workers, victims or to evaluate compliance with preventative health matters.
Wearable data… stored at a wrist near you!