The news: A joint investigation by STAT and The Markup organization found 49 of 50 direct-to-consumer (D2C) virtual care websites, from Cerebral to Workit, were sending consumers’ sensitive medical information to big tech and social media platforms.
How they got here: In June 2022, STAT and The Markup jointly published findings from their investigation of data-sharing practices among the top 100 US hospitals. One-third of those studied were sending sensitive patient data to Facebook through its Meta pixel, the computer code that Facebook offers to websites to allow them to track visitors.
HIPAA’s no help: The Healthcare Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) doesn’t address the magnitude of technology changes that have taken place since its enactment. And consumers are confused about what it protects and what it doesn’t.
This will backfire, eventually: Consumer trust is at stake for all digital health companies, not just D2C telehealth startups.
Digital trust is the confidence people have that a platform or company will protect their information and provide a safe environment for them. Once it’s lost by one group of healthcare providers, suspicion could taint all patient interactions going forward.
A just-published survey from Trusted Future found half of respondents (49%) used apps for fitness or wellbeing, or stored health-related data on their mobile devices from doctors, hospitals, or insurance companies (45%).
But there was no doubt about their sentiments on privacy and security around their personal health data.
Go deeper: Our sixth annual Digital Trust Benchmark 2022 shows how losing consumers’ trust is affecting nine major social media platforms. With the latest STAT/Markup report, digital health startups could see similar sentiments rising in 2023.
This article originally appeared in Insider Intelligence's Digital Health Briefing—a daily recap of top stories reshaping the healthcare industry. Subscribe to have more hard-hitting takeaways delivered to your inbox daily.
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