HL7 CMHAFF Standard Sources of Regulations, Policies, Rules, and References

Have you considered your privacy rights when using birth control apps?

Have you considered your privacy rights when using birth control apps?

Assessment of a Wired.com article by Megan Molteni

Abstract from the article titled, "Before Using Birth Control Apps Consider Your Privacy" posted on Wired.com: "Natural Cycles’ privacy policy states that in using the app each user grants the company and any of its partners broad rights to “use, reproduce, distribute, modify, adapt, prepare derivative works of, publicly display, publicly perform, communicate to the public, and otherwise utilize and exploit a user's anonymized information.”

Subjective: This article points out important considerations for people utilizing birth control and related apps that require the user to provide a significant amount of personal information. The somewhat galling aspect of which is that many users pay subscriptions for these services that in the end could make no small amount of money off this data.

Objective: Megan Moltini provides a balanced description of the pros and cons in using these types of apps. It is pointed out that many are not actively selling personal data at the time of the article and that the data they retrieve helps to provide a better product for its users. However, the potential for secondary use of the data for other unknown purposes is there.

Assessment: With statements such as this, users need to make educated choices about the apps that they choose to share their personal health information with: “Berglund says Natural Cycles’ only revenue stream at the moment is the app’s subscription service, and that selling customer data to third parties isn’t part of the company’s business plan. “We’ve never shared any data for financial purposes,” she says. But that may not always be the case. “I can’t say we’ll never share data, there’s no guarantees in life of what will happen.”

Plan: It has become very apparent that our personal data is being collected at great scale whether legally or illegally and it is important that we make active and educated choices about the health apps we use before automatically clicking the “Ok” or “I Agree” button when reviewing terms and conditions.

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HL7 CMHAFF Glossary

Philosophically, the HL7 Mobile Health group favors using terms that are commonly accepted in the consumer mobile space, in preference to terms that are used only in the EHR space. Simply put, the target user for these devices are consumers, rather than clinicians. However, where terms are used differently in EHR vs consumer spaces, we take note of that, and acknowledge the various uses.

This does not purport to be an exhaustive set of mobile health definitions, but terms are included only to provide clarity within cMHAFF.

See British Standards Institution Publicly Available Specification (PAS) 277:2015 Health and wellness apps. Quality criteria across the life cycle. Code of practice (https://shop.bsigroup.com/forms/PASs/PAS-2772015/) which has a good set of Terms and Definitions (section 3).

Terms and Definitions

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