Challenges and recommendations for wearable devices in digital health: Data quality, interoperability, health equity, fairness

PLOS Digital Health 1 (10):e0000104 (2022)
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Wearable devices are increasingly present in the health context, as tools for biomedical research and clinical care. In this context, wearables are considered key tools for a more digital, personalised, preventive medicine. At the same time, wearables have also been associated with issues and risks, such as those connected to privacy and data sharing. Yet, discussions in the literature have mostly focused on either technical or ethical considerations, framing these as largely separate areas of discussion, and the contribution of wearables to the collection, development, application of biomedical knowledge has only partially been discussed. To fill in these gaps, in this article we provide an epistemic (knowledgerelated) overview of the main functions of wearable technology for health: monitoring, screening, detection, and prediction. On this basis, we identify 4 areas of concern in the application of wearables for these functions: data quality, balanced estimations, health equity, and fairness. To move the field forward in an effective and beneficial direction, we present recommendations for the 4 areas: local standards of quality, interoperability, access, and representativity.

Author's Profile

Stefano Canali
Politecnico di Milano


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