The ethical challenges of ubiquitous healthcare
Brown, I. and Adams, A.A. (2007) The ethical challenges of ubiquitous healthcare. International Review of Information Ethics, 8 (12). pp. 53-60. ISSN 1614-1687
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Ubiquitous healthcare is an emerging area of technology that uses a large number of environmental and patient sensors and actuators to monitor and improve patients’ physical and mental condition. Tiny sensors gather data on almost any physiological characteristic that can be used to diagnose health problems. This technology faces some challenging ethical questions, ranging from the small-scale individual issues of trust and efficacy to the societal issues of health and longevity gaps related to economic status. It presents particular problems in combining developing computer/information/media ethics with established medical ethics. This article describes a practice-based ethics approach, considering in particular the areas of privacy, agency, equity and liability. It raises questions that ubiquitous healthcare will force practitioners to face as they develop ubiquitous healthcare systems. Medicine is a controlled profession whose practise is commonly restricted by government-appointed authorities, whereas computer software and hardware development is notoriously lacking in such regimes.
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