Following the release of a report by STAT and The Markup, which found 49 of 50 telehealth startups may fall short of legal requirements for HIPAA compliance, a bipartisan group of US senators has fiercely criticized several prominent telehealth startups for sharing patient data with Facebook, Google, and other major advertising platforms.
US Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Susan Collins (R-ME), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), and Cynthia Lummis (R-WY) called on three telehealth companies to protect their patient’s sensitive health data. Letters were sent this month to telehealth companies Monument, Workit Health, and Cerebral requesting information on their data-sharing policies.
The Senators reportedly expressed concern over reports that, despite promises to prospective patients that their information about mental health and addiction treatment will remain confidential, the companies are tracking and sharing their customers’ personally identifiable health data for advertising purposes.
Who Is Protecting Patient Health Information?
Advertising companies such as Facebook and Google are immune to privacy rules due to the non-healthcare focus of their services. To date, HIPAA and various state healthcare privacy regulations could not be invoked for advertisers. However, Senators and Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) introduced more stringent legislation to ban commercial advertising using Americans’ personal health data. In 2021. The Stop Commercial Use of Health Data Act was proposed to enhance consumers’ privacy by restricting companies from profiting from personally identifiable health data for advertising purposes. It also aims to give consumers greater access to and ownership over their personal health information. This and other Internet-related privacy laws are likely to be given new vigor now that flagrant disregard for consumer privacy rights has recently been identified in significant numbers of telehealth startups.
It may be interesting to note that beyond HIPAA, the federal law known as 42 CFR holds some addiction treatment providers to even stricter…
From Telebehavioral Health Institute – Read More