Telehealth startups need to be aware about risks of pixel tracking and sharing patient data

You must be aware that a lot of telehealth startups have emerged in the market since the pandemic started to take effect and these startups have been thriving in the industry right now even after the pandemic as people have gotten used to telehealth and the idea of telemedicine where they can get prescriptions for their illness right at home which means they don’t have to move an inch while being unwell. The idea of telehealth does make sense because a person would not like to get up and visit a clinic while they are unwell and telehealth eliminates the need to do that.

However, there are risks involved with telehealth as well and one such threat is the leaking of data that these telehealth startups have. Now, we are not talking about hacks that take place online but rather the leaks that are caused by advertisers such as Meta or Google. You must have seen that even telehealth startups target you based on ads and it encourages you to visit them as well as try out their services. However, they now know your data such as age, gender as well as the problems you are having. This is critical information and can’t be shared with advertisers.

Recently, a major telehealth startup named Celebral admitted to giving sensitive patient information to Meta, Google and others and said in a statement that it “determined that it had disclosed certain information that may be regulated as protected health information under [the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act],”. This information was given via a technique called pixel tracking where advertisers would retarget you based on the information they are provided such as the illness you are suffering from when you search for that specific term.

While Celebral has already admitted to the mistake and it is currently under investigation, they are not the first and might not be the last startup to have made this mistake. We see that a lot of telehealth startups are able to retarget people accurately and this is not possible without sharing sensitive information so we might see a lot of telehealth startups at fault here.


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