Wearable wellness devices, like FitBits and other fitness trackers, are making a big difference in improving people’s health and activity levels, and they are also a hot trend in employer-sponsored wellness programs. However, employers that incorporate wearable technology that collects biometric data from employees into their group health benefit plans need to be cognizant of privacy and data security concerns and potential liabilities.
A 2017 survey of 8000 employershas a steady compliance rate, even with older employees, and many employers like how using the devices for workplace challenges, and programming can spark employee engagementone in three people owns and use fitness-tracking technology already.
With benefits and statistics like that, it is likely that your company may be considering the use of wearable technology in the workplace for wellness purposes or are doing it already. If this is true, then make sure you have thought through privacy concerns. In addition to motivating healthier behavior, wearable devices collect a lot of data, including activity levels, GPS location, heart rate, calorie consumption, height, weight, sleep levels and more. Depending on how this biometric data is collected, stored and used, as well as how the wellness program is structured, your employer group health plan may have a responsibility to protect it. Even if you do not have direct responsibility, your company should be prepared to answer questions about who might have access to employee data.