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Strengthened Regulation Affecting Healthcare Apps


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writer icon Wilma Johansson     ISB   |   Business     🕐 18. Apr. 2019


Region Sörmland want to enforce stricter guidelines on marketing of healthcare, in a move which affects digital healthcare apps, such as various ‘netdoctors’ in particular.

This is done with the hopes that other Swedish counties and municipalities will follow lead. Region Sörmland only works on a local county level in Sweden, where it “coordinates public and private healthcare”, both when it comes to primary and hospital care.

The new guidelines
Social democrat and region-board chairman, Monica Johansson, spoke to Swedish radio P4 Sörmland about the types of healthcare advertisements and marketing that the region are opposed to, when it comes to medical and healthcare apps.

Ads or marketing on ”for example, subways and on the backs of buses. [Where she has] seen popup-windows online on sites that many young people frequent, that is not okay,” Johansson told radio P4.

In addition, the ways in which advertisements are phrased and directed towards specific audiences must be regulated. As a result, Region Sörmland has developed a long list of guidelines that stipulate what applies in the region.

For instance, an ad cannot be targeted towards people under the age of 18, nor should it risk being intrusive or offer up free health services of any kind. Finally, the service is not allowed to use scare-tactics to lure in customers, “for example exaggerating some symptoms for the purpose of frightening a patient to ‘go seek medical attention straight away, and not wait’”, Johansson clarified to P4.

Effects from the restrictions
The restrictions may impact doctor and digital health apps, such as Swedish Kry and doktor.se, but only in the Sörmland region. The rest of the country’s counties and municipalities will have to follow suit for it to become a nationwide standard.

“This is really about getting things in order on how we should market ourselves and also be trustworthy towards citizens” Johansson emphasised.

Digital health apps already suffering
These news follow recent discussions that medical-app physician compensations are about take another dive. Many ‘netdoctor’ companies are reportedly already making losses, and one more compensation cut could see these types of services drop off the market entirely.



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