Leaving patients to their own devices? Smart technology, safety and therapeutic relationships

Anita Ho*, Oliver Quick

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

35 Citations (Scopus)
364 Downloads (Pure)


Background: This debate article explores how smart technologies may create a double-edged sword for patient safety and effective therapeutic relationships. Increasing utilization of health monitoring devices by patients will likely become an important aspect of self-care and preventive medicine. It may also help to enhance accurate symptom reports, diagnoses, and prompt referral to specialist care where appropriate. However, the development, marketing, and use of such technology raise significant ethical implications for therapeutic relationships and patient safety. Main text: Drawing on lessons learned from other direct-to-consumer health products such as genetic testing, this article explores how smart technology can also pose regulatory challenges and encourage overutilization of healthcare services. In order for smart technology to promote safer care and effective therapeutic encounters, the technology and its utilization must be safe. Conclusion: This article argues for unified regulatory guidelines and better education for both healthcare providers and patients regarding the benefits and risks of these devices.

Original languageEnglish
Article number18
Number of pages6
JournalBMC Medical Ethics
Publication statusPublished - 6 Mar 2018

Structured keywords

  • Centre for Health, Law and Society


  • Medical education
  • Medical ethics
  • Patient engagement
  • Patient safety
  • Professional regulation
  • Technology
  • Telemedicine


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