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


Published 12/10/2010

Personalised heathcare cover
DNA kit

The following five ethical values are important when considering developments in medical profiling and online medicine:

  1. Private information should be safeguarded.
  2. Individuals should be able to pursue their own interests in their own way.
  3. The state should act to reduce harm.
  4. Public resources should be used fairly and efficiently.
  5. Social solidarity (sharing risks and working together to protect the vulnerable) should inform public policy.

Conflicting ethical values

These ethical values often conflict with one another. All are important and no one value ‘trumps’ another.

In the following case studies, we examine the benefits and harms in each situation. We then attempt to ‘soften’ the conflicts between the ethical values by respecting each of them as much as possible and making recommendations that are evidence-based, proportionate and feasible.