Health Care IT Grows and So Do Its Challenges

Carl Weinschenk
Slide Show

Top 15 Health Care IT Vendors

The explosion of telecommunications in health care shows no sign of slowing. It is a category that should raise tremendous concerns, especially in light of the almost daily loss of consumer data that businesses and carriers should be able to protect.

Juniper Research said last week that sales of connected health care devices, including blood pressure cuffs, diabetes oximeters, sleep apnea monitors and other hardware and software, will generate sales of  more than $3 billion annually by 2019. The firm said that Apple’s HealthKit and the Samsung Architecture Multimodal Interactions (SAMI) will drive the increases.

The story noted other aggressive predictions for this overall category, but these are not apples-to-apples comparisons simply because the firms define the expansive market somewhat differently. Visiongain has a broader definition and, therefore, more aggressive numbers: It sees the market it follows being worth $6.7 billion by the end of this year. Last month, Accenture said that digital health startups will be funded to a tune of 6.5 billion by the end of 2017.


InformationWeek’s Joshua New discussed the complexity of insurance and health care apps with a look at an application that seems like a win all around. HealthKit, which monitors and integrates data from various health care and related devices and apps, is being tied to the Humana Vitality app to give people financial incentives to live better. But even such a seemingly beneficial application must pass regulatory and legal scrutiny:

However, this healthcare advance won't happen unless insurance regulations keep up with the technology. Under existing federal law, data from wearables and mobile devices is allowed to influence health insurance prices only if the data meets a predefined set of guidelines that constitute an employee wellness program, with a hard limit of 30% for discounts. Now that insurers have the capacity to integrate this influx of biometric data, policymakers must develop a more modern framework.

The point is that the technology is ahead of the rules under which it is being administered. Updating them can be tricky, but it’s a necessary step.

Another big question surrounding health care applications is the proper use of the mountain of data that is collected. On one hand, if used in aggregate and in an anonymized fashion, it can be greatly beneficial by tracking trends in the health of the population. Conversely, the dangers of a world in which details of folks’ medical conditions are all networked are obvious. Compromised credit card information is serious; compromised health information is orders of magnitude worse.

Health Care

Den Howlett at Diginomica presents how Apple’s terms of service reduce the chance that HealthKit data could get commandeered, but those same rules make it more difficult for enterprises to test new systems. He says that the Android world is friendlier to tests. The story doesn’t detail overall Android security as it relates to health care.

Health care is being affected more than perhaps any other vertical by the explosion of mobile communications. However, important regulatory and security questions still remain.

Carl Weinschenk covers telecom for IT Business Edge. He writes about wireless technology, disaster recovery/business continuity, cellular services, the Internet of Things, machine-to-machine communications and other emerging technologies and platforms. He also covers net neutrality and related regulatory issues. Weinschenk has written about the phone companies, cable operators and related companies for decades and is senior editor of Broadband Technology Report. He can be reached at cweinsch@optonline.net and via twitter at @DailyMusicBrk.



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