The mHealth Hub Quick Guide to Ethics


All forms of service covered by the label ‘mHealth’ demand adherence to principles of good ethical practice, in the same way as any other provision of healthcare services do. The concept of mHealth ethics can cover a very wide range of issues addressing the many different forms of mHealth and the different actors and interactions it includes.


To help the project partners and users navigate the literature and provide them a first orientation on this topic, the European Innovation and Knowledge mHealth Hub developed a living annotated bibliography – that will be published soon on this website – which can be continuously updated throughout the lifetime of the project, as well as a ‘quick guide’ to mHealth ethics.


Based on this orientation each mHealth provider should read widely and develop their own bespoke ethical framework in which their service will operate. The mHealth Hub Ethics Quick Guide is not definitive, but only an opening. The following is a summary infographic based on the ‘quick guide’ to mHealth ethics.

he mHealth Hub Ethics Quick Guide


Transparency of Purpose

  • Be clear on the purpose of the service.
  • Identify the user target group.


Transparency of Products and Services

  • Provide full transparency on sources of funding.
  • Provide full transparency on use of advertising.
  • Explain how and when decisions are made based on artificial intelligence or machine learning.


Transparency of Promise

  • Outline all potential impact  – positive and negative.
  • Identify where potential impact depends on linked services.



  • Provide adequate information  to allow for fully informed consent.


Active and supported engagement of citizens/patients

  • Ensure that users can engage and disengage as they want – including a right to  exit the service and be forgotten.


Respect for vulnerability

  • Allow for flexibility in patterns of service use.
  • Allow for engagement of others, including informal carers.


Accountability of service provision

  • Address the safety of the service and service users (duty of care/duty not to harm).
  • Provide accessible complaints procedures  and redress systems.
  • Ensure high standards of data governance and privacy.


Social Accountability

  • Strive for economic sustainability and long term availability.
  • Consider environmental sustainability in service delivery and design.


Material access

  • Provide clarity on costs to service users.
  • Avoid dependency on technology that excludes some groups.
  • Build on engagement with end users (co-production and design reciprocity).


Physical and intellectual access

  • Take account of variable health and general literacy.
  • Be sensitive to language and cultural needs.
  • Address physical usability – colours, font, volumes.

mHealth ethics was the main theme of the second of the ‘Hub Talks 2021’ series. Experts from the European mHealth Hub participated in that session, as well as CEN/TC 251 and AAL programme staff, looking at very many different aspects of the ethical challenges that exist in bringing an mHealth product to market and providing an mHealth service. During this Talk, Hub partners Petra Wilson (Personal Connected Health Alliance) and Gaston Remmers (Mijn Data Onze Gezondheid) presented for the first time this mHealth Hub Quick Guide to Ethics for the mHealth service provision. You can watch that part of the session in the following video: