The popularity of smartphones means that businesses are gaining increasing insight into what consumers want – and exactly when and where. Location-based technology allows anyone with a smart device to find the nearest restaurant, or shoe store, or coffee shop, or even individual items in a particular aisle of a store. People who use fitness or health applications can track their activity levels and other important wellness factors.
Of course, as the prevalence of location-based data rises, so do privacy concerns. Though consumers are certainly warming up to this type of data sharing, there is an overarching fear about what it all means in the grand scope of consumer privacy. This is especially true when it comes to health data. When consumers are tracked in this realm, does it cross the strict lines of privacy that lawmakers have tried so hard to protect through legislation like HIPAA laws?
It’s an interesting debate, certainly. On one hand, better health tracking benefits patients and can save time in the event of an emergency. On the other hand, health data has always been closely guarded because it can lead to things like discrimination.
But what does it all mean for everyone else? What can all marketers understand better about consumers, based on the health data debate? Why should non-health related apps and services pay attention to what happens with the information allowed in health technology? Here are just a few reasons that what happens with consumer privacy regarding health data will impact everyone else:
- Consumers will become more aware. As the health tracking debate comes to the public surface, consumers who knew very little about how their smart devices track them will start to learn more. They may not like what they learn – and it could spell trouble for marketers in the future.
- Consumers will expect more. Think of all the things your smartphone already does for you: gives you instant internet access, reads you your texts and emails, reminds you when it is your mom’s birthday or when you need to make an important phone call for work. As each part of our lives gets connected to smart applications, we expect more intuitive measures from everything else. This mentality will be heightened even more if health apps are fully integrated in what we use our phones to do.
- Consumers will look elsewhere. As the laws in the U.S. are put in place to provide privacy protection on health apps, consumers will learn more about how data is protected in other countries. Expect issues like the right to be forgotten online to surface with more vocal support from the general public.
Overall the adoption of health apps will lift the mobile technology industry by mainstreaming a necessary area into smartphone usage. It’s important for all marketers to understand the implications of health-based apps and what the laws end up looking like surrounding them, because it will impact consumer behavior and expectations.
What do you think the laws should be when it comes to health tracking?