Digital Single Market
Digital Economy & Society

mHealth in Europe: Next steps discussed at eHealth Week in Riga

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To follow up on the mHealth Green Paper, the European Commission has started paving the way for an industry-led Code of Conduct for mobile health apps. This initiative was presented during an mHealth stakeholder meeting at eHealth Week 2015. Find the results and polls of this meeting here.

On 12 May, at the eHealth Week in Riga, an mHealth stakeholder meeting took place. It interactively addressed ongoing and potential future policy actions in the field of mobile health (mHealth). The discussion built on the results of the public consultation on the Green Paper on mHealth, but also on the outcome of an ad-hoc consultation via the on-site voting system.

The meeting was attended by about 70 people, ranging from public authorities, ICT industry, and academia to healthcare professionals.

The following three topics were discussed:

  • Privacy and security
  • Safety and transparency
  • Web entrepreneurs' access to the market

Crucial: Privacy and security safeguards

The participants of the meeting saw the need for efficient privacy and security safeguards to protect citizens' data collected by mHealth apps as crucial in the public consultation.

In this context, the European Commission presented their recently started initiative on drawing up an industry-led Code of Conduct on mobile health apps, covering the topics of privacy and security. The objective of this code is to foster citizens' trust in mHealth apps, raise awareness of and facilitate compliance with EU data protection rules for app developers.

Lack of clinical evidence

Furthermore, the safety and quality of lifestyle and wellbeing apps was discussed and how to best address these issues. The on-site survey revealed that stakeholders identified lack of clinical evidence as the main issue as regards to safety, quality and reliability of health apps, followed by misleading claims on the purpose and function.

The participants agreed that guidelines or standards for quality criteria of lifestyle and wellbeing apps were needed. The Commission announced to follow-up on this topic and will inform stakeholders about the next steps.

Supporting web entrepeneurs

Finally, the barriers that web entrepreneurs are facing in accessing the market were discussed. Most of the participants thought that the barriers that web entrepreneurs are facing are multiple, such as the unclear and fragmented legal framework, lack of interoperability and open platforms.

The European Commission presented ongoing and planned initiatives to support web entrepreneurs' access to the market, in particular those under the Startup Europe umbrella and those included in the Digital Single Market Strategy.

A selection of the polls that were conducted during the meeting (N.B. not everyone in the room voted):