One of the recurring themes about the potential benefits of wearable Health Tech devices and the “quantified self” is the concerns that people have about privacy and sharing their personal health data. In a study last year, PricewaterhouseCoopers found that consumers are hesitant to share their data with family and friends. Nearly half reported that they did not feel comfortable about sharing personal data. Only one in four would be willing to share exercise data, and the numbers declined from there for health, mood, weight, and diet. Fewer than one in eight wanted to share details about sleep patterns or daily medication.
These results are not that surprising. Another part of the results tells a different story, however. The researchers found that when it comes to sharing wearable Health Tech data, primary care physicians top the list of those trusted by consumers. Their health insurance company was second, and hospitals came in third. (By contrast, banks were fifth on the list of trusted entities.) This makes some sense because these are institutions that already have access to similar data, and the supposition might be that they could do their job of helping the consumer if they had more detailed information.
Perhaps the take-away here is that people are indeed concerned about data privacy, especially when it comes to health-related information. However, if they can see a direct benefit for themselves that comes from making their information available, they may be more inclined to make their data available.