Microsoft gives six of the best guidelines for mhealth
July 29, 2015
Microsoft, along with New York-based Vitality Institute and the University of California, are developing a set of industry guidelines to address the legal, social and ethical concerns associated with the development and use of mhealth technology and the data it generates.
With consumer use of wearables, smart pill bottles, health apps and other forms of personalised health technology rapidly increasing, concerns around data privacy, proper interpretation of health information and data stewardship are also on the rise. In response, the guidelines build on existing best practices to create a standardised approach.
A draft of the guidelines has been issued to open a three-month public comment period before thy are finalised.
“I urge anyone with an interest in the future of health technology to review the guidelines and comment,” said Derek Yach, executive director of the Vitality Institute. “This includes consumers who use wearables, smart watches and health apps, along with leaders of the companies that develop, market and distribute these products Personalised health technology has great potential to benefit the health of countless individuals and it is critical that we proactively address these legal, social and ethical challenges so that potential benefit is not hindered.”
The draft responsibility guidelines make six recommendations that call on personalised health technology to:
- Protect the privacy of a user’s health data
- Clearly define who owns a user’s health data
- Make it easy for users to interpret their data accurately
- Integrate validated scientific evidence into product design
- Incorporate evidence-based approaches to health behaviour improvement
- Be accessible to marginalised populations
“These responsibility guidelines provide a framework for protecting consumers and treating them fairly and ethically,” said Kevin Patrick, a professor and researcher at the University of California and one of the authors of the guidelines. “I hope this comment period will open a global dialogue on these issues and help create the strongest possible guidelines.”
The public can comment on the draft guidelines by going to www.thevitalityinstitute.org/ELSI. The comment period will close on October 15. At that point, the guidelines will be finalised and shared with industry leaders. A voluntary group of organisations will then pilot the guidelines and be independently monitored to ensure they are accountable for their actions.
“Innovative personal health technology products are producing completely new categories of data and creating completely new challenges for developers, clinicians and users,” said Dennis Schmuland, Microsoft’s chief health strategy officer. “Now, as we create guidelines to help the legal, ethical and societal considerations catch up to the innovation, I encourage my colleagues to review the guidelines and share their input.”