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


Published 12/10/2010

Personalised heathcare cover
DNA kit

If there is broad agreement that a new development in medical profiling and online medicine is likely to cause significant harm, then intervention by governments or other organisations is justified.

Types of intervention

Coercive vs non-coercive

Some interventions involve formal state-specific forms of coercion, such as laws and regulations, while others do not, such as voluntary codes of conduct or education campaigns.

Specific vs general

Some interventions are specific to the product or service in question, while others are more general, for example general professional codes or rules about data protection.

Choosing interventions

The intervention should be proportionate to the problem. Less coercive interventions should be explored first, unless the degree of harm in a particular case merits a more stringent type of intervention.

More general forms of intervention are often preferable to more service- or product-specific ones, particularly where technology is rapidly changing and specific rules can quickly become outdated.

Interventions should also be feasible. There may be times when measures could not realistically be enforced, would be very expensive or could have negative side effects.