New Healthcare Privacy Challenges as Online Data Tracking, Sharing Methods Evolve

November 23, 2022 Lauren Frickle

With security concerns, including a potential breach and a class-action suit, around Meta Pixel and other web tracking tools, health systems should be considering "all the ways PHI may be used, disclosed and accessed," says a former OCR investigator.

This past June, a John Doe plaintiff who was a patient at Baltimore-based Medstar Health System filed a class-action complaint against Meta Platforms in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.

The plaintiff alleged that Meta, the parent company of Facebook, was using its Pixel tracking technology to access patient information from websites and portals of hospitals and health systems for targeted marketing.

Since then, at least two other class-action suits have been filed against Meta alleging illegal information harvesting. And several major U.S. health systems have either been named as co-defendants (Dignity Health, UCSF) or faced lawsuits themselves (Northwestern Memorial Hospital) for alleged misuse or misconfiguration of the Pixel tool.

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