Industry Leaders Push for Self-Regulation in Mobile Health Sector

On Thursday, several industry executives testified before a House committee to discuss Internet-connected devices, as well as mobile health tools and health care connectivity, MobiHealthNews reports.

Hearing Details

The House Judiciary Committee heard testimony fromleaders in the connected device industry, including:

  • Morgan Reed, executive director of ACT The App Organization; and
  • Gary Shapiro, CEO and president of the Consumer Electronics Association.

In his testimony, Shapiro emphasized the importance of connected devices in providing care for older adults. Specifically, he noted that connected devices can help seniors:

  • Prevent accidental over- or under-doses of medication;
  • Refill their prescriptions; and
  • Remember to take their medications.

Meanwhile, Reed touted the potential benefits of devices, such as Apple Health and Microsoft HealthVault, that use sensors connected to cloud-based health records or dashboards applications. However, he noted that few doctors currently use these technologies because of confusion about regulations.

Industry Push for Self-Regulation

In their testimonies, Reed and Shapiro urged lawmakers to ease federal regulation of connected devices and move toward industry self-regulation.

In particular, Reed argued the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (USC 2510-22) — which allows the government to look up electronic data, including HIPAA-protected health information, after 180 days without a warrant — makes it difficult for companies to gain patients’ trust because there is no guarantee that their information will not be obtained by the government. He added that the law creates a competitive disadvantage for global companies that can choose to operate outside of the U.S. to protect their data.

Reed noted, “While there’s currently no legislation on encryption, we ask that you take seriously any government efforts that would require companies to put citizens’ data at risk.”

Meanwhile, Shapiro said lawmakers should focus their legislative efforts on transparency so patients can choose companies with which they wish to share their data.

He said, “I think what companies need to provide is transparency, and then consumers will make a reasoned decision about what they’re willing to give up in return for (some benefit).” He added, “I think it’s premature for Congress to draw the line [around privacy],” he and commended the Federal Trade Commission’s case-by-case approach to regulating mobile health. He said, “My recommendation is we let it play out a little and if we’re going to legislate we do it in a specific way.”

When asked by Rep. Judy Chu (D-Calif.) how companies would handle the potential of putting self-interest ahead of the public’s, Shapiro said companies should be allowed the opportunity to self-regulate, but the government should be prepared to intervene if needed (Comstock, MobiHealthNews, 7/30).

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