University of Connecticut School of Medicine’s department of psychiatry, Efraim J. Keisari, said the research conducted a literature review on the ethical, legal, and regulatory challenges they experienced during their study on the use of passive smartphone-based data to predict depression symptomatology among 182 college students.
“Our work examines the ethical, legal and regulatory challenges encountered by clinicians and researchers using mobile health technologies in the field of psychiatry,” Keisari told Healio Psychiatry.
“As with other facets of technology, mobile health technologies are growing rapidly.
“These technologies show great promise and can help researchers and clinicians diagnose, monitor, treat and even predict symptoms of depression, but with any new technology comes questions of privacy, regulation and ethics, among others.
“As we integrate technology into our medical practices, we must continue to provide our patients with the best care while adhering to the basic ethical principles of medicine,” he said.
The study divided participants into two groups, depressed or healthy controls and showed significant associations between sensory data and interview assessments and depression scores.
The issues encountered during the study were reported as ensuring participants’ understanding of the granularity and scope of collected data, issues with data transmission and encryption, issues with data storage related to HIPAA protection, individual access to data for analyses, potential date use for other or future purposes, liability such as timely data review for suicidality, and privacy.
“Our reaction is one of cautious optimism,” Keisari said.
“Mobile health technologies can represent a tremendous step forward in the management of psychiatric conditions.
“These technologies also present challenges that we must examine and address.
“Our goal must be to work together to develop and implement these technologies in a safe and ethical manner.
“We should treat mobile health technologies like a new drug/medication and thoughtfully evaluate the risks and benefits.
“This will ensure that we provide the best care for our patients in a safe, ethical and equitable manner,” he said.