Medical Booking App Passing On Private Data

13:40' 26-06-2018
HealthEngine, an app used to book appointments with doctors, dentists, and a range of other medical practitioners, has come under fire for sharing private data of users with third parties, such as lawyers.

    Medical App HealthEngine Has Been Sharing Data With Compensation Lawyers

    Photo: pedestrian.tv

    HealthEngine, which has 1.5 million monthly users, asks users to include details of their symptoms and medical conditions, including workplace injuries or traffic accidents, as part of the booking process.

    The ABC obtained secret documents from plaintiff law firm Slater and Gordon revealing HealthEngine was passing on a daily list of prospective clients to the firm, averaging 200 clients a month between March and August last year. The law firm frequently advertises its services in bringing injury claims to court.

    On its website homepage, HealthEngine assures customers it will not provide personal information to a third party without the customer's express consent, but the ABC claims a separate “collection statement”, which must be accept to use the service and confirm a booking, says personal information is shared with a range of third parties.

    In response to the allegations, HealthEngine says it “has no referral arrangements in place with marketing agencies or law firms”.

    HealthEngine faced criticism earlier this month when it was accused of editing users' feedback comments to remove or tone down negative reports of health practitioners. Ranjana Srivastava, writing in The Guardian, claims that of nearly 50,000 reviews posted on its website, half were tampered with in this way.

    In a Facebook comment, HealthEngine said, “In response to media claims, we have removed the published feedback while we conduct a robust review. We will keep users informed of the outcome.”

    Health Minister Greg Hunt has also ordered an urgent review of HealthEngine.

    Last week, the Australian Dental Association (ADA) issued a media release saying that it was “not just HealthEngine” that people should watch out for. According to the ADA, patients using a similar service, Whitecoat, have been sent direct marketing material based on their personal data.

    President of the ADA, Dr Hugo Sachs, pointed out that three health funds have “significant shared ownership” of Whitecoat, and says the ADA is concerned about conflicts of interest.

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