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Responsible use of apps for public health

Apps are increasingly being used for health purposes. If apps are to be used for public health purposes, for example in population screening programmes or infectious disease control, the government must ensure effective and responsible use. Hereto, the government may use existing ethical-legal frameworks for public health. However, the use of apps presents new challenges compared to more traditional methods typically used in public health interventions, such as laboratory testing. The technology underlying such app can be complex, making it challenging to explain and understand how the app works. This may also complicate assessing an app’s effectiveness and not everyone may be able to use such apps. And with the large amounts of data that apps can store, there is a risk of misuse or abuse of personal data, especially when apps are, over time, used for other purposes. In order to minimise these risks, the Health Council has provided a specification of several criteria from existing frameworks for public health.