Tired of managing your own health choices? Soon you’ll be able to let Comcast do it for you. If that sounds strange to you, don’t worry, it’s not the first company to offer this type of service and hardware. Apple has been testing health-tracking through its Apple Watch, Google is targeting senior living facilities with its Nest and Google Home products, and Amazon has been working on its own secretive initiatives.
The idea is pretty simple. Comcast will offer a device that monitors and assists senior citizens or disabled persons by determining when it is time for a health checkup – or in some cases – an emergency room visit. The device is not intended to do things like Alexa or Siri do with ordering products, providing search capabilities, or assistance with scheduling daily tasks. Its sole purpose, at a very basic level, is to monitor your activity patterns, detect falls, and call for medical help if it determines you need it.
Comcast already has internet and television equipment in homes and facilities across the country, so this is a logical move. The company will simply provide this new health service as an add-on. While it may seem incredibly invasive to some, many people will be eager to utilize this service while being ignorant to the security and privacy risks involved.
The biggest issue that should be considered with this Comcast service (and others like it) is whether these large tech companies should be trusted with your sensitive health information. Will there be an impact on your health premiums or insurance options as a result of what they learn about you? Anyone using the service is putting an awful lot of faith in a telecommunications conglomerate that has a terrible track record with protecting your private information and providing reliable customer service. With the negativity surrounding Google, Apple, and Amazon, it is not likely Comcast will have an easy time gaining people’s trust with arguably their most sensitive information – healthcare.
Another thing to consider is what if some people don’t have a choice as this type of service becomes more popular and profitable? It will be interesting to see if this kind of technology will eventually find its way into military barracks where service members won’t have a choice. Will they have a say in the privacy of their health information?
Comcast’s targeted demographics of senior citizens and disabled people will certainly reap some benefit from this service, but for those wary of having more invasive technology in their homes, this will likely fall flat. Apple seems to have the more versatile hardware and platform with its smart watch that goes everywhere you go – not just throughout your home like the offerings from Comcast, Google, and Amazon. Comcast seems to be going all-in for home access and will have its work cut out to compete with Google and Amazon.