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A mobile revolution for healthcare? Setting the agenda for bioethics
  1. Federica Lucivero1,
  2. Karin R Jongsma2
  1. 1 Ethox Centre, Wellcome Centre for Ethics and Humanities, Big Data Institute, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK
  2. 2 Julius Center, University Medical Center Utrecht, Utrecht University, Utrecht, The Netherlands
  1. Correspondence to Dr Federica Lucivero, Ethox Centre, Wellcome Centre for Ethics and Humanities, Big Data Institute, University of Oxford, Oxford OX37LF, UK; federica.lucivero{at}


Mobile health (mHealth) is rapidly being implemented and changing our ways of doing, understanding and organising healthcare. mHealth includes wearable devices as well as apps that track fitness, offer wellness programmes or provide tools to manage chronic conditions. According to industry and policy makers, these systems offer efficient and cost-effective solutions for disease prevention and self-management. While this development raises many ethically relevant questions, so far mHealth has received only little attention in medical ethics. This paper provides an overview of bioethical issues raised by mHealth and aims to draw scholarly attention to the ethical significance of its promises and challenges. We show that the overly positive promises of mHealth need to be nuanced and their desirability critically assessed. Finally, we offer suggestions to bioethicists to engage with this emerging trend in healthcare to develop mHealth to its best potential in a morally sound way.

  • information technology
  • technology/risk assessment
  • autonomy
  • ethics

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  • Contributors FL conducted the primary research and drafted the first version of the paper, which was then discussed with KRJ, who produced the second version of the paper. The authors worked closely together during the writing and revision of any further versions of the manuscript.

  • Funding This study was partly funded by the European Commission Seventh Framework Programme (PIEF-GA-2013-624872). The Wellcome Centre for Ethics and Humanities and the Ethox Centre are supported by a Wellcome Centre Grant (203132/Z/16/Z).

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent Not required.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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