Medical profiling and online medicine: the ethics of 'personalised healthcare' in a consumer age


Published 12/10/2010

Personalised heathcare cover
DNA kit

New developments in medical profiling and online medicine are promised by their providers as leading to a new era of ‘personalised healthcare’. These developments include:

  • direct-to-consumer body imaging (e.g. CT and MRI scans) and personal genetic profiling as a health check
  • the increase in websites that provide health advice, diagnosis, storage of health records, and medicines for sale

The technologies behind these developments are already being used in positive ways. For example, the UK’s National Health Service (NHS) uses approved genetic tests to detect rare genetic disorders. We explore the more controversial uses of these technologies, and the extent to which they really do lead to healthcare becoming more personalised.