Mobile health and wearables generate huge amounts of data that is different from what is traditionally captured. This has given rise to new challenges for not only developers but also healthcare providers and users. With increased availability of wearables and mobile health applications, it is essential that some guidelines be set up for legal, ethical and societal considerations for innovations.

Microsoft is joining hands with the University of California, San Diego and the Vitality Institute to create “responsibility guidelines” that target six important issues in the use of personalized health technology. These guidelines will not only help developers – wearables, apps, smart devices – to promote their product/service but also help consumers identify the trusted sources. There are six key areas addressed in these guidelines. They recommend that covered devices:

  1. Rely on evidence-based approaches.
  2. Are designed to promote equitable access across diverse populations.
  3. Integrate data privacy protections into their design and development.
  4. Make it easier for users to understand the data.
  5. Incorporate scientific evidence to produce accurate and reliable data.
  6. Are transparent about the data produced, how it’s stored and used, and who owns it.

Kevin Patrick, MD, MS, a professor and researcher at UCSD and author of the guideline, has made them available for review and comments till October 15th, 2015, after which they will be finalized and shared with industry experts. Derek Yach, executive director of the Vitality Institute and senior vice president of the Vitality Group urges anyone with an interest in the future of health technology to review the guidelines and comment.  This includes consumers who use wearables and health apps, along with leaders of the companies that develop, market and distribute these products.

Mobile health and wearables are becoming an integral part of future healthcare strategies. It has benefits to help numerous users to manage and be proactive with their healthcare plans. These guidelines proactively address the social, ethical, and legal issues and will ensure that the mobile health ecosystem benefits.