Mobile health apps: bioethical aspects

28 May 2015


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The phenomenon of 'mobile-health' or the collection of 'mobile' technologies, wireless communications (phones and smartphones, tablets, digital devices, with or without wearable sensors), applied in areas related to health arises within the context of the 'mobile revolution' and transformation of new information and communication technologies.
The development of such technologies is fast and constantly growing, in as much as it is difficult to offer a concise overview of the new technologies available. These are technologies that promote strong innovation and open up new opportunities:
including, the promotion of a healthy life style of its users, facilitation of communication between doctor/patient, improved efficiency of the health care system, the speeding up of the collection of data, the expansion of access to care,
At the same time there are some controversial aspects involved and discussed in ethical terms, with respect to safety and efficacy, privacy, informed consent, technological dependency and vulnerability, health self-management and the
technological divide.
In the light of the ethical analysis the Committee has made some recommendations, with placing particular emphasis on the classification of the applications based on the risks, the promotion of interdisciplinary research between computer experts, programmers and doctors, along with ethicists, and experts in cognitive and social sciences, during the stages of development, testing and evaluation of applications, encouraging industries to create apps which are actually
useful for the health of citizens and identifying company responsibilities in building apps as part of the profiles of safety and privacy.
The Committee calls for the establishment of an observatory to monitor apps and the setting up of scientifically accredited sites and/or portals, the promotion of an appropriate information sheet and clear communication for the user whenever using the app, paying specific attention to minors and fostering studies on the impact of the use of apps, particularly as regards personal identity and relationships. The goal is to promote the acquisition of a critical awareness on the part of society of new health
applications, avoiding excessive forms of health fanaticism and medicalization. A concise overview of the current major international and national regulations is appended to the document.

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