Ethical issues in using ambient intelligence in health-care settings

Lancet Digit Health. 2021 Feb;3(2):e115-e123. doi: 10.1016/S2589-7500(20)30275-2. Epub 2020 Dec 21.


Ambient intelligence is increasingly finding applications in health-care settings, such as helping to ensure clinician and patient safety by monitoring staff compliance with clinical best practices or relieving staff of burdensome documentation tasks. Ambient intelligence involves using contactless sensors and contact-based wearable devices embedded in health-care settings to collect data (eg, imaging data of physical spaces, audio data, or body temperature), coupled with machine learning algorithms to efficiently and effectively interpret these data. Despite the promise of ambient intelligence to improve quality of care, the continuous collection of large amounts of sensor data in health-care settings presents ethical challenges, particularly in terms of privacy, data management, bias and fairness, and informed consent. Navigating these ethical issues is crucial not only for the success of individual uses, but for acceptance of the field as a whole.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Algorithms
  • Ambient Intelligence*
  • Bioethical Issues*
  • Data Collection
  • Data Management / ethics*
  • Digital Technology
  • Documentation / methods
  • Health Personnel
  • Humans
  • Informed Consent
  • Machine Learning
  • Patient Care / ethics*
  • Patient Care / methods
  • Patient Safety
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic
  • Privacy
  • Quality of Health Care
  • Telemedicine / ethics*
  • Telemedicine / methods
  • Telemetry / ethics*
  • Telemetry / methods
  • Wearable Electronic Devices