The media giant Comcast, which owns NBC, MSNBC, is working on an in-home device to track people’s health, but not everyone is thrilled with the idea.
CNBC first reported on the device, saying the apparatus will monitor people’s basic health metrics using ambient sensors with a focus on whether someone is making frequent trips to the bathroom or spending more time than usual in bed. Comcast is also building tools for detecting falls, which are common and potentially fatal for seniors.
Twila Brase of Citizens’ Council for Health Freedom has concerns.
“One — is it’s an outside piece of equipment that would be put into your home, which they say would only do this and that,” she explains. “However, do we really know that, and could those powers of observation, powers of tracking, powers of monitoring, be expanded?”
Comcast has also been talking to hospitals about the device. According to CNBC, the discussions have centered on using the device to ensure that patients do not end up back in the hospital after they have been discharged. While that sounds like a good thing, Brase, a registered nurse, says hospitals do not want readmissions because they get penalized for them.
“My concern for the future is that the hospital will say to the patient, ‘We’re going to let you go sooner than we would let you go because we’re going to have this sensor set up in your home,’ and the patient who is not yet ready to go will feel pressure to have this sensor in their home and will feel perhaps beholden to making it happen … and will not be able to say no because, after all, they’re in a vulnerable position,” Brase poses.
In addition, she thinks these kinds of sensors might become mandatory as part of Medicare, Medicaid, or some other healthcare plan.
“My concern is they won’t be voluntary,” Brase concludes. “They’ll be compulsive, and they’ll be under the control of outsiders, and they could be expanded far beyond what they’re saying they would do today.”