The conjunction of wireless computing, ubiquitous Internet access, and the miniaturisation of sensors have opened the door for technological applications that can monitor health and well-being outside of formal healthcare systems. The health-related Internet of Things (H-IoT) increasingly plays a key role in health management by providing real-time tele-monitoring of patients, testing of treatments, actuation of medical devices, and fitness and well-being monitoring. Given its numerous applications and proposed benefits, adoption by medical and social care institutions and consumers may be rapid. However, a host of ethical concerns are also raised that must be addressed. The inherent sensitivity of health-related data being generated and latent risks of Internet-enabled devices pose serious challenges. Users, already in a vulnerable position as patients, face a seemingly impossible task to retain control over their data due to the scale, scope and complexity of systems that create, aggregate, and analyse personal health data. In response, the H-IoT must be designed to be technologically robust and scientifically reliable, while also remaining ethically responsible, trustworthy, and respectful of user rights and interests. To assist developers of the H-IoT, this paper describes nine principles and nine guidelines for ethical design of H-IoT devices and data protocols.
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