Privacy Concerns Biggest Challenge for mHealth Adoption

With Anthem's security breach potentially compromising the personal information of current and former members, a timely report from the Economist Intelligence Unit revealed that privacy remains the top concern of implementing mobile health technology.

With Anthem’s security breach potentially compromising the personal information of up to 80 million current and former members, a timely report from the Economist Intelligence Unit revealed that privacy remains the top concern of implementing mobile health technology.

In a survey for the Power to the patient: How mobile technology is transforming healthcare report, 64% of healthcare leaders and executives worldwide say mHealth could improve outcomes by providing greater access to medical information.

Currently the most common uses of mHealth technologies are providing education and information (79%) and improving quality of communication between patient and healthcare professional (36%). However, these are expected to change over the coming years.

While improving communication will gain momentum in 3 years as the most common function (46%), respondents also predict another common function will be improving personal awareness through self-monitoring (40%). The landscape changes again when looking 5 years out. Half predict that mHealth will have enabled patients to proactively participate in their own care as well as reduce the cost of healthcare delivery.

“At a time when health systems around the world are struggling to meet demand, mobile technologies have enormous potential,” Frieda Klotz, the report’s editor, said in a statement. “Not only can they enable health workers to reach marginal communities; they also provide individuals with more data about, and control over, their health. But with healthcare in particular, privacy concerns are an important part of the equation.”

Nearly half (49%) of respondents believe consumer wariness about privacy violations could be a barrier to adopting the technology. A slightly larger proportion (51%) say data privacy risks are their own biggest concern.

The public sector said the biggest challenge for adoption of mHealth is the need to ensure patient privacy as the, while the private sector is more concerned with institutional bias and conservatism within the healthcare establishment.

Of even larger concern is the fact that patients may misinterpret their own data and make poor decisions.