STAT6001 Public Health Informatics: Ethical challenges for eHealth and mHealth Assessment 2 Answer
Ethical challenges for eHealth and mHealth
The requirement of the health industry is changing every instant and so the Government also needs to integrate new and innovative technological solutions to their arsenal to keep up with the pace of change. While technological integration has perfected the efficiency of service delivery but also has raised many questions about the effectiveness, ethical and moral dimensions of the health industry. The primary aim of this project is to find the ethical and moral implications of the eHealth and mHealth services on providing access to the patients. A detailed analysis of the challenges faced for dispensing the services has been carried out, and some probable solutions to those problems have been recommended.
Today, people are at a loss of time and has very scarce amount to invest in places which pays no dividends. They are continuously trying to make the most of their available time. Thus waiting for reports in a hospital or the checkup itself is found to be time-consuming and therefore alternate ways are being preferred by the people. The eHealth and mHealth services are the product of such requirements. The eHealth entails the use of the internet for monitoring, prescribing, reports, test results, health records etc. The definition is very varied, but the primary idea remains the same. A subsidiary of the eHealth is the mHealth. It requires the use of portable mobile devices and gadgets for dispensing the same directly to the customers (Vukovic et al. 2016). This rather new form of treatment method has given rise to a number of ethical and moral concerns by the ethicists. As the medical information, personal details of the patients, the correctness of the gadget outputs is highly debatable. The practical resonance of disclosing such sensitive information also has adverse effects on the patients and their lives. Thus, ethical issues and concerns are valid in the use of technologies in health care services.
The challenges faced by the eHealth platforms can be broadly classified into two categories: correctness and privacy and usability.
Correctness and Privacy: The ethical question of access to informed medical information through electronic means is of huge consequences (Kluge, 2017). The information provided through the wearable gadgets and mobile devices has to be correct and then only it can be used by the user. However, regular updates may form a great pattern for the patients and others to follow but still begs the question of the implications of wrong medical procedures which can impact the health of the users. The privacy of such information generated by the use of such gadgets is also at risk of being leaked and disclosed. Thus, these confidential data are prone to be used against the users which are a great ethical risk.
Usability: Generally, the users are not a trained, medical professional. Thus, they do not possess the medical expertise to understand the meaning of the generated data (Quiñonez et al. 2016). The usability of these medical information decreases furthermore, the user may not be able to interpret correct implications and would take up incorrect procedures for improvement. The context and implications of prior health issues may also have an impact on the present problems which will not be understood by the user.
Kranzberg in his first law states that technology is either positive or negative neither is it neutral (Antila et al. 2019). The dependencies of the access to the technology on the health care systems depend entirely on the users and the application style of the generated information.
Role of carers and NGOs in governing the eHealth
Here, Sharp and O'Sullivan (2017) have illustrated that the ethical issues of mHealth and eHealth is sufficiently minimized by a strong network of competent personnel and communication within the team. A rich ethical environment is developed by the hospitals which creates a purposeful attitude towards the data of the patients in their absence. The professionals along with the physician are educated on the legal and moral implication of their inadequacy to instil in them by the Government and the NGOs (Catan et al. 2015). This helps them in acquiring the required drills of observing necessary safeguards to prevent any accidental loss of information. The carers continuously communicate with each other to uphold the integrity of the intended purpose to truthfully provide health care solutions to the customers.
Role of patients in governing eHealth
The patients are required to involve actively in the governance of the eHealth services by gaining the required knowledge, self-confidence and skills in terms of usability and health literacy. The patients are also required to adapt with the information and educational tools for understanding the care dynamics. According to Gagnon et al. (2019), with the increase in the number of mHealth and eHealth applications, the patents are required to be well educated with the usability of the services starting from conception to assessment. However, according to Sharp and O'Sullivan (2017), there are some implications of getting access to the mHealth and eHealth services to the patients wherein they are required to be aware about the confidentiality and integrity of the personal information.
The information with sufficient and complementary additional may have a deep positive impact on the user. On the contrary, Houston, Bay and Valovich McLeod (2016) postulated that the cognitive analysis and function of the human component can never be trumped or overridden by the machines for completing complex but inconclusive decisions for relating the symptoms to the ailments and their treatment procedures to be followed. The ethical responsibilities of medical professionals can be greatly reduced by an efficient system of communication. The communication can be between the physician and the patient or within the treatment team of professionals.
Thus, the analysis of the signs of the diseases or the data generated thereof may have multiple meaning, and it is never possible for the machines to decide on the right course of action. The perception of the computers is data-driven and linear which may not suffice to reach a conclusion of the problems. Thus, a conflicting opinion is held by different authors and experts. I, however, believe that the scope of the use of eHealth and mHealth can be broadly widened in the future. But the recent developments must be used with expert guidance and not only with the AI interface engagements.
Access that people have to their own eHealth and mHealth records
It cannot be denied that the data collection and representation of the health report numbers can be efficiently done with the use of gadgets, mHealth and eHealth sources. In some non-critical cases, the users can also access this information for improving their health and the way of life. But, the core methods of treatment still have a long way to go before it can become a mainstream mode of medication and treatment. Human intervention is still necessary to decode the subjective languages of the data. The interrelation of other issues can also not be done efficiently done by digital technologies. The monitoring process can, on the other hand, be done more successfully and with minimal effort by these services. The ethical issues of such implications must be undertaken by the relevant authorities to protect any possible infringement. The data loss is a significant risk in that sphere. The use of identification techniques to present the medical records, medical history, ePrescriptions, test results might be needed for safeguarding the data and protect the privacy of the users. A critical analysis of the recorded data needs to be done by a competent professional to dispense speedy but correct diagnosis.
The carers in the health care sector have probably the biggest ethical and moral responsibility (Catan et al. 2015). This is because of the dealings with the people at their vulnerable situations and thus the professionals need to be very considerate in their operations and treatment. The ethical question of the use of mHealth and eHealth solutions can be tied to the fact that the importance of imparting positive health solutions. The illegal practices of promising correct identification and evaluation of the ailments are often not done by the service providers. Sometimes it is the result of unfortunate coding techniques or unwilling faults. These affect the health of the users. The consent of the users for the prepared medical procedures is also another ethical question and the moral responsibilities of the Government.
The safeguards of the ethical issues of the mHealth and eHealth problems should be undertaken to protect the users from any potential implications of a data breach and wrong medical identification. Several steps have been implied and used by various organizations. Some of the recommended steps are as follows:
- Sufficient digital protection and safeguards to prevent a data breach and data loss. The service providers must use firewalls and security features for such measures. Significant identification methodologies like fingerprint verification, unique OTP generation and such steps could also ensure additional security.
- The authenticity of the identified diagnosis might also be supported by proficient medical practitioners. The interrelation of the data, prior health problems and the current ailments can only be sufficed by the human intervention due to the randomness and uniqueness of the medicinal practice.
- The users are also needed to be educated on the practicability of the mHealth and eHealth solutions for getting the desired results. The contextual meaning of the metrics vary and depends on a plethora of factors which only an experienced and educated individual can fathom.
It is very much evident from the above discussion the need for an efficient support system for dispensing a speedy but effective and ethical solution by the use of mHealth and eHealth means. However, the contribution and the positive effects of such digital medical solutions cannot also be refused. The positive impacts far outweigh the negative implications which can be further reduced with improvements. The users need to be aware of the terminologies of medical science and must take the initiative to understand and use the provided information. It must also be stated that any doubt on the data must always be taken with advice from a doctor. It is also the moral and ethical responsibility of the professionals to always give their best possible each and every time.