Computer’s, Privacy and Data Protection 2018 The Internet of Bodies

CPDP is a conference about privacy and data protection. It offers a forum where different voices are heard and where positions are compared debated, approached or differentiated.

CPDP is a non-profit platform originally founded in 2007 by research groups from the Vrije Universiteit Brussel, the Université de Namur and Tilburg University. The platform was joined in the following years by the Institut National de Recherche en Informatique et en Automatique and the Fraunhofer Institut für System und Innovationsforschung and has now after a decade grown into a platform carried by 20 academic centers of excellence from the EU, the US and beyond.. As a world-leading multidisciplinary conference CPDP offers the cutting edge in legal, regulatory, academic and technological development in privacy and data protection. Within an atmosphere of independence and mutual respect, CPDP gathers academics, lawyers, practitioners, policy-makers, industry and civil society from all over the world in Brussels, offering them an arena to exchange ideas and discuss the latest emerging issues and trends. This unique multidisciplinary formula has served to make CPDP one of the leading data protection and privacy conferences in Europe and around the world.

At today’s conference, I took part in the discussion panel – Automated Decision-making in Commercial Health.

Electronic health and mobile health applications and how are leveraged to create a more efficient, cost-effective, and consumer-friendly healthcare experience.

Technology has utterly changed the medical field. Consumers now expect to have unlimited access to their health information at their fingertips, in addition to receiving care from their provider without entering a medical office. Both eHealth and mHealth have allowed these services to be possible.

One of the most widely used eHealth applications is the electronic health record (EHR), which is a digital version of a patient’s medical history from a single facility, which  allow for improved continuity of care because records can be shared easily between health care providers; specialists; hospitals; and nursing homes. Information sharing is therefore not limited to geographic regions;

Mhealth applications and services command a lot of attention today. The clear upside to mHealth apps is that they are making people more proactive about their health.

Mhealth apps are a booming economy — there are over 165,000 of them. Convenience and user experience aren’t the only benefits of this boom — greater accessibility to care is another big advantage. The rapid increase in smartphone adoption means that people in more rural and lower-income parts of the country can now have access to mHealth services too. That’s also important because in much of the developed world our populations are ageing, and more people are living in a manner that can’t last forever: juggling long working hours.

The problem of efficacy – more apps should mean more healthy — right?

Sadly not. Out of tens of thousands of mobile health apps and services, only a handful are proven to be based on validated research — and mental health and mindfulness apps are especially controversial.

Although that sector includes some of the most visually compelling apps in the market, researchers found that of 700 mindfulness apps available, only 23 are providing any mindfulness training and only one is based on empirical evidence;

The problem of humanisation:

App developers could leverage the experience to connect patients with the right clinicians in a way that is convenient to their lifestyle; This also points to the danger that mHealth “dehumanises” users — effectively, treating individuals as blocks of data — in an effort to keep costs down and the barrier of entry low, making care less effective than it could be.

Background to EU policy on eHealth and mHealth:

The Commission has published several communications on technology and the provision of health products and services. These include:

    • A White Paper, “Together for Health: A Strategic Approach for the EU 2008-2013” dated 23 October 2007
    • Its “eHealth Action Plan 2012-2020 – Innovative healthcare for the 21st century” dated 6 December 2012).
    • A Green Paper on mHealth dated 10 April 2014


  • A staff working document on the existing EU legal framework applicable to lifestyle and wellbeing apps dated 10 April 2014
  • In the EU, medical devices, low voltage equipment, machinery and radio and telecommunications terminal equipment are regulated under the “New Approach” directives,
  • More recently, the Commission has started paving the way for an industry-led Code of Conduct for mobile health apps, covering the topics of privacy and security.


The growth of eHealth and mHealth raises a number of fundamental privacy concerns on the basis that both involve the processing  of information that includes personal data Therefore, the use of eHealth and mHealth in Europe must be in compliance with:

  • Directive 95/46/EC on data protection (Data Protection Directive).
  • Directive 2002/58/EC on the protection of privacy in the electronic communications sector (E-Privacy Directive).

The Role of Automated Decision-making in Commercial Health

– mobile health is reshaping the current way of health decision making. Automation holds the keys to tremendous opportunity, in terms of patient experience, cost, and quality of care.

Mobile health is broadly defined as “medical and public health practice supported by mobile devices, such as mobile phones, patient monitoring devices, personal digital assistants  and other wireless devices.”

Is time to put a question and investigate a new paradigm of automated mobile health as the process automation of mobile-enabled health interventions.

Intelligent automation is making care delivery and administration more seamless across the health ecosystem. From robots performing housekeeping duties to avatars streamlining the patient intake process—it’s not about replacing people, it’s about allowing people to work more efficiently, and where they are needed most.

Data can help clinicians make informed decisions through computer-assisted algorithms, and it can get the right supply to the right place at the right time. Machine learning is improving the identification and resolution of fraud, waste and abuse—a major drain on the healthcare system.

Ethical implications and concerns:

Ehealth has a huge potential to improve patient care but there are number of regulatory and ethical challenges that need to be dealt with to increase patient and user confidence. One of the fundamental challenges is ensuring that patient data remain confidential and secure. The GDPR provides a binding EU framework to safeguard patient privacy and ehealth operators should systematically assess the data privacy aspects whenever e-health operators need to be mindful of and compliant with national laws and regulations governing the specific processing of patient health information, which require higher standards.

The implications of growing citizen involvement in healthcare and health research are complex and potentially transformational. The benefits could be substantial: more informed, empowered patients, taking greater control of their own health, in more effective health systems, driven by medical research that harnesses the power of big data.

The multifaceted nature of participation poses a complex set of new ethical considerations for policymakers, practitioners and participants. Even as trends offer the realisation of greater autonomy on the part of individuals, the potential for empowerment is nuanced by a set of tensions or risks: voluntary involvement can become an obligation to participate; citizen participation in health research can come to resemble instrumentalisation, even exploitation.

However, technology-centred health and social care services also raise a number questions involving what sort of ethical conduct should be expected by developers of the digital health technologies.

Issues such as privacy, security, equality, accessibility and data protection are some ethical concerns posed by new technologies in the health and social care sector. One challenge for those involved in the design, development and deployment of digital health technologies and applications will be to determine what constitutes ethics and what codes of ethics to adhere to.

There are many frameworks and guidelines established to deal with the impact of digital technologies on our societies. Requirement engineers need to adhere to the relevant codes of ethics to address important engineering ethics-related software requirements.