Digital medical companies have started funneling patient data to Facebook for advertising purposes. This is a major shift in how health care companies use social media to promote their services. For example, Northwestern Memorial, Dignity Health, and UCSF Medical Center are all using Facebook to promote their services. But what exactly are these companies doing? Let’s take a closer look. What do these companies do with this patient data?
UCSF Medical Center
In a recent class action lawsuit, UCSF Medical Center, Dignity Health, and Meta Platforms were accused of using “Meta Pixel” to harvest patients’ health information and use it for targeted advertising purposes. The lawsuit alleges that the organizations failed to notify patients that their information would be used for this purpose. As a result, pharmaceutical companies used the information to send advertisements to patients related to their medical conditions.
The lawsuit is currently pending and UCSF and the Digital Healthcare Companies cannot comment on it. Dignity Health and Meta did not respond to requests for comment. They have yet to respond to Becker’s request for comment. A representative for the UCSF Medical Center and Dignity Health Medical Foundation did not respond to requests for comment. However, the companies did acknowledge that they used Meta Pixel to collect and use patient information.
The companies use a tracking cookie called Meta Pixel, which sends Facebook information about webpage activity and user IP addresses. According to The Markup, Meta Pixel is used by 33 of the top 100 hospitals. These websites collectively admitted over 26 million patients in 2020. They use this cookie to target their ads, which is a violation of HIPAA. This practice may have a negative impact on the privacy of patients and the privacy of other users.
A class-action lawsuit filed against Dignity Health and Meta Platforms has named the companies as participants in the practice of funneling patient data to Facebook for advertising purposes. The lawsuit alleges that these companies improperly collected and stored patient data to deliver targeted ads and other content to patients. The companies used an advertising platform called “Meta Pixel” to harvest data from patients without their knowledge or consent. The companies then used the data to send ads for pharmaceutical companies aimed at addressing their health problems.
The study examined health-related online activity tracking, which is used by various digital medical companies to target advertising on Facebook. The researchers studied the online activities of 10 cancer patients using five digital medical tools. These companies used third-party ad trackers to track patients’ online activity, which they then used to target ads based on their preferences. Among the companies studied, three violated privacy policies by funneling patient data to Facebook without patient consent.
With more than 25,000 patients, Northwestern Memorial Digital Medical Companies (DMCs) are increasingly using Facebook to advertise and gather data about patients. Their website is geared toward patients, but it also must appeal to a diverse range of audiences online. It’s no wonder why these companies have focused on creating a unique user experience for their website. Rather than relying on the same generic design as other health organizations, they create a customized experience for patients that matches their needs.
The Northwestern Memorial website uses news reports heavily. The News Center section features articles on scientific breakthroughs. Breakthroughs in Care offers daily support to patients and their families. By making the site useful to a variety of visitors, Northwestern can deliver value to everyone. Visitors can also sign up for health tips that are free and relevant to their interests. This helps to build relationships with patients and improve care. Northwestern Memorial’s website is also more mobile-friendly and easier to navigate.
The study also found that digital health companies are monetizing the health information of their patients without the patients’ knowledge. This practice may violate HIPAA and privacy policies. Further, Northwestern Memorial did not comment on the lawsuit, citing ongoing litigation. However, its actions have generated criticisms online. This lawsuit is an excellent opportunity to fight back against this practice and protect patients’ privacy. If these digital health companies are using your information without your consent, they are likely violating HIPAA and privacy laws.