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Current initiatives to unlock the potential of mobile health in Europe

To follow up on the results of the mHealth Green Paper consultation, the European Commission has been paving the way for several European initiatives such as an industry-led Code of Conduct for mobile health apps and mHealth assessment guidelines.

mHealth is an important topic in Commission policy on eHealth, in particular aspects around the validity and reliability of data from mHealth solutions.

The Commission services will therefore be closely associated to the works of the eHealth network subgroup on mHealth (see topic 6 on the agenda), led by Member States representatives, as well as to the mHealth Hub, a recently launched project funded by the Horizon 2020 programme, involving the World Health Organisation.

Privacy Code of Conduct for mHealth apps

The European Commission has been facilitating an industry-led Code of Conduct on mobile health apps, covering the topics of privacy and security. The objective of this code is to foster citizens' trust in mHealth apps, raise awareness of and facilitate compliance with EU data protection rules for app developers. It is now being looked at by the Article 29 Working Party on data protection.

mHealth assessment guidelines working group

The public consultation on the Green Paper on mHealth identified safety and transparency of information as one of the main issues for mHealth uptake.

The large number of lifestyle and wellbeing apps available with no clear evidence on their quality and reliability is raising concerns about the ability of consumers to assess their usefulness, thus potentially limiting their effective uptake for the benefit of public health. Ensuring quality of data is also essential for linking apps to the electronic health records and for the effective uptake in clinical practice.

In February 2016, the European Commission appointed a working group to draft mHealth assessment guidelines. The group includes representatives of patients, health professionals and providers, payers, industry, academia and public authorities.

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New EU working group aims to draft guidelines to improve mHealth apps data quality

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The Commission has set up a working group to develop guidelines for assessing the validity and reliability of the data that health apps collect and process. Based on their expertise, 20 members representing civil society, research and industry organisations were selected to participate in the working group. The guidelines are expected to be published by the end of this year.