Safety Risks with Wearable Technologies

Consumer-grade Wearables: A top health technology hazard for 2021

ECRI, the most trusted voice in healthcare, is committed to advancing effective, evidence-based care. As an independent, nonprofit organization, we are dedicated to improving the safety, quality, and cost-effectiveness of care across all healthcare settings.

Now in its 14th year, ECRI’s Top 10 Health Technology Hazards identifies health technology concerns that warrant attention by healthcare leaders. ECRI’s team of experts follows a rigorous review process to select topics for the annual list, drawing insight from incident investigations, reporting databases, and independent medical device testing. One of ECRI’s top tech hazards is Consumer-Grade Products Can Lead to Inappropriate Healthcare Decisions.

While consumer wearable devices can be useful to monitor trends in sleep, heart rate and other indicators of health, people should not rely on them to make healthcare decisions.

The biggest issue is that the measurements from consumer grade devices may not be sufficiently accurate or may be misleading. If you are tracking recovery or are in a treatment program, or have chronic health conditions, relying on readings that are inaccurate can be life threatening.

The most important thing is to know that the readings on your wearable device are not a replacement for routine medical care, especially if you have chronic conditions. They can be helpful in monitoring, but they are not diagnostic devices.

If you have a concern about your health, consult your doctor, not your wearable device.

Healthcare workers who would like to learn more about ECRI’s Top 10 Health Technology Hazards for 2021 can download the executive brief.