Legal and regulatory considerations associated with use of patient-generated health data from social media and mobile health (mHealth) devices

Appl Clin Inform. 2015 Jan 14;6(1):16-26. doi: 10.4338/ACI-2014-09-R-0082. eCollection 2015.


Patient-generated health data are coming into broader use across the health care spectrum and hold great promise as a means to improve care and health outcomes. At the same time, rapid evolution in the social media and mobile health (mHealth) market has promoted an environment in which creation and transmission of personal health information is easy, quick, and appealing to patients. However, adoption of social media and mHealth by providers is hampered by legal and regulatory concerns with regard to data ownership and data use. This article defines common forms of patient-generated health data (PGHD) and describes how PGHD is used in clinical settings. It explores issues related to protection of personal health information, including that of children and adolescents, data security, and other potential barriers such as physician licensure. It also discusses regulatory and legal considerations providers and patients should consider before using social media and mobile health apps.

Keywords: Social media; jurisprudence; legislation; mobile apps; mobile health; patient outcome assessment.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Health Information Systems / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Humans
  • Ownership
  • Social Control, Formal*
  • Social Media*
  • Telemedicine / instrumentation*