Recent Blog Articles

Staying Healthy

Digital health tracking: Preventive care or privacy invasion?

March 01, 2018

24-hour health monitoring is high tech. But is it helpful?

 Image: © chombosan/Getty Images

The day has arrived when doctors can remotely monitor your health every moment, if you (and they) choose. Increasing numbers of wireless digital sensors — some implanted in or on the body, some ingested, and some worn like clothing — are making the leap from patents to patients. In 2017, the FDA cleared dozens of devices for continuous health monitoring. "The hope is that people heading toward serious problems — such as high blood sugar or heart rhythm abnormalities — can be headed off at the pass," explains Dr. Anthony Komaroff, editor in chief of the Harvard Health Letter.

Not necessarily new

We've had portable gadgets that monitor health for decades. One early example is the kind of heart pacemaker that detects irregular heartbeats and shocks them back to a normal rhythm. Today we also have devices that sense and respond to many other health problems, such as Parkinson's disease tremors or pauses in breathing during sleep.

To continue reading this article, you must log in.

Subscribe to Harvard Health Online for immediate access to health news and information from Harvard Medical School.

  • Research health conditions
  • Check your symptoms
  • Prepare for a doctor's visit or test
  • Find the best treatments and procedures for you
  • Explore options for better nutrition and exercise
Learn more about the many benefits and features of joining Harvard Health Online »

I'd like to receive access to Harvard Health Online for only $4.99 a month.

Sign Me Up

Already a member? Login ».


As a service to our readers, Harvard Health Publishing provides access to our library of archived content. Please note the date of last review or update on all articles. No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.