We bring you this week’s healthcare and medtech trends, from Boston and beyond:
1. Santa Claus Came to Town… With FitBits
FitBit’s sales numbers jumped this season as people rushed to buy the newest version of the activity tracker for family and friends. But the company also received ample criticism, too: their website underwent “required maintenance” on Christmas day, meaning that thousands of people were unable to set up their brand new trackers. And media moguls like Anne Helen Peterson of BuzzFeed are starting to ask big questions about the data gathered from devices like these. Are there actually any studies that prove that these trackers work for everyone? Peterson considered this and more in her piece yesterday.
We’re all for the tracking movement – staying fit and understanding your health is important. But we’re also excited about privacy options and wearables backed by scientific research.
2. Making Sparks: HealthCare.gov’s 2015 Plans
If you need healthcare in the new year, note that we’re just a few weeks away from the deadline to sign up for HealthCare.gov’s plans. According to Reuters, nearly 6.5 million people have already registered. By the Feb. 1 deadline, officials expect many more people to jump on board. Better sign up now… and pray that the websites hold up.
3. Partners HealthCare Reports Major Losses
A few weeks ago, local healthcare conglomerate Partners HealthCare released numbers that made critics and supporters alike cringe: they’ve lost $22 million in the last fiscal year, the worst numbers in 15 years. The losses reportedly come from the company’s insurance branch, Neighborhood Health Plan, which serves low income families and individuals. The Boston Globe reported that Partners is considering selling off the insurance business, or finding a new partner to help finance it. Ouch.
4. The Data-Privacy Battle Continues
While wearables bring concern about privacy laws and data use, Boston Children’s Hospital spent the beginning of December apologizing for their own data breach saga. On December 22, 2014, the AP announced that Boston Children’s would settle – to the tune of $40,000 – following the accidental release of personal information about 2,100 of their patients. The data was on a hospital-issued, unencrypted laptop stolen from a doctor on official business in Argentina. The breached information had been sent in an email to the doctor in question. Double ouch.
On that note, we’re heading into the new year with big plans: more content, a larger staff, exciting contests and coverage from experts in the healthcare field. We appreciate your continued readership. Happy 2015!
Jenni Whalen is the Executive Assistant of Editorial at Upworthy. She was previously MedTech Boston's Managing Editor and has an MS in Journalism from Boston University, as well as a BA in Psychology from Bucknell University. Whalen has written for Greatist, Boston magazine, AZ Central Healthy Living and the New England Journal of Medicine, among other places. She has also worked as a conference planner, ghost writer, researcher and content developer.
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