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Ethics of the Health-Related Internet of Things: Mapping the Debate

April 28, 2017 by Brent Mittelstadt

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The Internet of Things is increasingly spreading into the domain of medical and social care. Internet-enabled devices for monitoring and managing the health and well-being of users outside of traditional medical institutions have rapidly become common tools to support healthcare. Health-related Internet of Things (H-IoT) technologies increasingly play a key role in health management, for purposes including disease prevention, real-time tele-monitoring of patient’s functions, testing of treatments, fitness and well-being monitoring, medication dispensation, and health research data collection. H-IoT promises many benefits for health and healthcare. However, it also raises a host of ethical problems stemming from the inherent risks of Internet enabled devices, the sensitivity of health-related data, and their impact on the delivery of healthcare. This paper maps the main ethical problems that have been identified by the relevant literature and identifies key themes in the on-going debate on ethical problems concerning H-IoT.