Health tech companies scramble to close privacy gaps after Roe ruling – Boston, Massachusetts

Boston, Massachusetts 2022-07-02 07:00:56 –

Men Following the Supreme Court’s decision Overturn the Roe v. Wade caseMedical record reproductive health data Vulnerable to legal requirements The state that criminalized abortion, or the state that is about to come. However, there is even less protection against digital footprints left outside the clinic, and healthcare companies are working on what to do about it.

Lucia Savage, Chief Privacy and Regulatory Officer at Omada Health, said:

STAT contacted 20 companies that interact with user data on the menstrual cycle, fertility, pregnancy and abortion and asked about current data practices and adaptation plans. What has emerged is more clear about how data is processed and how care is delivered as legal teams form, compete to design new privacy products, and distrust of digital health tools swirls. It is one of the companies that aims to convey. ..


Time tracking apps are the target of some of the biggest calls for privacy protection and the most visible corporate reaction. Currently, at least two menstrual tracking apps are developing anonymous versions. NaturalCycles states that insights need to be exchanged with Flo, which has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration as a form of contraception and is also creating an anonymous version. Of that app.

“We’re heading together to reaffirm our anonymization practices,” said Raoul Scherwitzl, CEO and co-founder of Natural Cycles. “Competitioners can be very good at finding each other’s shortcomings.” Another time-tracking app, Clue, clear By the FDA early last year for use as a contraceptive, but yet To release the product widely. The clue didn’t answer the question about whether there are plans for anonymized apps or whether changes are expected in contraceptive deployments, statement About existing privacy practices with users.


“Our business model is not based on profiting from your personal data. We sell products based on what you track, share tracking data with advertising networks, sell your data, and so on. Nothing to do, to a third party, “the company said.

This is in stark contrast to most menstrual cycles, fertility, and pregnancy tracking apps. These apps make money by displaying targeted ads to users, aggregating data and selling it to third parties. That data sharing creates a web of potential viewers that is difficult to unravel and understand for users. For example, Baby Center’s privacy policy, a pregnancy tracking app owned by Everyday Health Group, may disclose user data to regulatory agencies, “buyers of our business”, and “third-party advertising providers.” It is stipulated as. Plugins or content “etc.

The Baby Center told STAT, “We value our policies and practices in order to respect our mission. Whatever form your pregnancy may take, it is to help your family through pregnancy.” Told. However, he refused to provide details on which policies are being discussed. Most other tracking apps contacted by STAT, such as Flo, Glow, Kindara, Expectful, Sprout, The Bump, Hello Belly, and Stork, didn’t answer the question.

For apps such as Natural Cycles and Flo, creating an anonymous version is also a way to avoid the complexity created by state-specific abortion laws. Scherwitzl states that “the whole legal situation is changing” in ways that are difficult for resource-constrained companies to track and respond to individually.

But companies that straddle the line between digital tools and healthcare providers will have no choice but to dive head-on into the legal swamp. Angeline Beltsos, a reproductive endocrinologist and clinical CEO of Kindbody, a nationwide virtual face-to-face fertility clinic, said to navigate the post-law environment, where many legal issues depend on interpretation. Said he hired an additional legal counsel. Regional decisions on how aggressively the abortion ban should be implemented.

Kindbody does not provide abortion services, but the Supreme Court’s ruling has spurred an increase in calls from patients in states with a trigger law banning abortions, Beltsos said. Even before the opinion is officially announced, some patients have a less restrictive definition of law and personality that gives them the freedom to perform genetic testing and discard unhealthy or unused embryos. Requested to transfer embryos to the state.

“It’s a time of anxiety when it comes to making sure we’re teaching people properly,” says Beltsos. She said the company has been operating normally so far, but will continue to work closely with its right to make decisions about embryo handling and testing.

What happens when prosecutors ask for personal health information, Alife, a technology company that uses artificial intelligence to help providers improve patient outcomes and increase access to fertility care? We are preparing for. This may include encrypted information about embryos that were created, used, or destroyed. These preparations “have sufficient capital in the vault” to study the developing legal situation, establish contacts with legal experts, and protect against potential data seekers. That means, said CEO Paxton Maeder-York.

“We are ready to fight these legal proceedings with the dollars we have, and understanding the local laws and jurisdictions in these states we operate is really one thing. It will be, “he said.

According to Beltsos, Kindbody is also considering policies related to data collection on websites that use cookies to track patient browsing. Such data, along with other consultations or referrals provided by Kindbody, may eventually become relevant to prosecutors seeking to enforce a state abortion ban. Beltsos said the company is taking steps to withdraw in case authorities request access to details about patient care.

“As long as the law allows, I want to protect the patient’s privacy and personal story, which is due to an oath,” she said.

However, not all companies are ready to publish their approach due to ongoing discussions at internal meetings. The majority of reproductive health tech companies contacted by STAT did not or refused to answer questions about their plans.

Digital health company Ro, which acquired Modern Fertility and its ovulation, fertility, and prenatal care services last year, refused to answer questions about how to respond to Dobbs’ decision. Fertility wearable maker Ava and virtual obstetric care providers Oula and Wildflower did not meet STAT’s request.

What is clear is that improving communication about data practices is an important distinguishing point for users.Not health-specific, regardless of the level of threat to user data Source of data, Search history, text, access to websites containing information about abortion, etc., are more likely to be used by the prosecution. Companies can be forced to respond in ways that stimulate trust. Roe’s decision has dramatically changed the download pattern for time tracking apps.

Without improved data management and the associated transparency, new companies can find market openings, Savage said. For example, an organization is a subpoena target because it is a digital tool that encrypts reproductive health data with keys that only individual users have. In addition, existing enterprises may face a more difficult business environment.

“For companies doing business in that area, it certainly creates risks,” says Scherwitzl. “If you’re looking for investor money, investors hate risk.” This can lead to reduced funding and innovation in the health sector of women who are no longer well-served in the long run.

“It’s all connected,” said Scherwitzl. “In conclusion, that’s not good.”

Mario Aguilar contributed to the report.

Health tech companies scramble to close privacy gaps after Roe ruling Source link Health tech companies scramble to close privacy gaps after Roe ruling

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