Well, I guess Apple isn’t happy just being a wearables contender. It has just filed a patent for a watch that can provide health “event detection” and medical alerts. We all knew this was coming. And I guess we all should have known that, soon or later, it would affect our health care status.
Apple claims that such devices are the perfect tool for corporate wellness programs, as well as affecting health care premiums. Apple claims their watches would detect a health occurrence or event through its sensors and feed that information to an iPhone. At the smartphone, alerts are sent to appropriate parties. This could save lives and lower premiums.
Sounds like a grand scheme. It could detect a heart attack, or an automobile accident, or a fall, for example, and start the first responder activity immediately. It could also send a variety of bio data to the appropriate agencies as they are responding so they have a much better picture of what the incident is and what condition the wearer is in.
All this sounds so grand, and a life-safety windfall…but. If anyone thinks that is all such watches will be used for, better think again. Corporations could use them to track employee’s health status. So much for feigning a temperature on opening day of baseball season. But then again, if you really are coming down with the flu at work, there is no doubt it is real.
However, my mind comes up with the dark side. Insurance companies now have a 24/7 picture of your health. (And don’t think they won’t be able to get that). Say this watch is detecting some signs that you are likely to have a heart attack shortly – blood pressure, heart rate, maybe even cholesterol down the road. And, all of sudden your health insurance is cancelled. The same scenario can happen with life insurance. Don’t wear it you say. OK, then the insurance companies simply refuse to insure you.
It could also be used as a condition of employment so the employer can control health premiums by hiring only marathon runners. Or even a screening device of potential employees. The list of potential abuses goes on. It is a bit early to opine where this may go. There is no doubt that it is a good thing, as long as it gets pigeon-holed as an optional device, if it comes to fruition.