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Adding fuel to the recent firestorm surrounding the report of the top 50 telehealth startups’ alleged sharing of sensitive patient data with large marketing companies, a new study has raised similar marketing practices in 98.6% of US hospitals. According to the April 3 issue of Health Affairs, almost all US hospitals and health systems reportedly share sensitive patient data through software that includes a meta pixel with Facebook. Other types of pixels spotted on hospital websites include Google, Adobe, and AT&T, according to the team of hospital website researchers led by researcher Ari B. Friedman. The Health Affairs study of possible violations of patient privacy in hospitals includes the following:
- Analyzed 6,162 US hospital and health system websites, including 3,747 identified non-federal acute care hospitals with websites.
- Concluded that 98.6 percent of these hospitals routinely sent sensitive health information to third parties.
- Google’s parent company, Alphabet, received 98.5% of patient data transfers.
- Meta, Facebook’s newest venture, received 55.6% of all third-party transfers.
- Adobe Systems received 31.4% of third-party data transfers.
- AT&T received 24.6% of all data transfers.
- US hospital and health system homepages had a median of 16 third-party data transfers. They represent 69% of all US hospital homepages.
- The transfers were the highest among medium-sized, nonprofit, urban, and health system-affiliated hospitals.
The researcher’s findings align with recent allegations of telehealth startup improprieties related to marketing and other privacy violations published by researchers in December 2022. Since then, several companies have been investigated by a group of Senators, the Federal Trade Commission‘s investigation of BetterHelp and GoodRX, followed by the Office for Civil Rights investigation of…
From Telebehavioral Health Institute – Read More