With Information Regarding Your Reproductive Healthcare, Dr. Oz’s Medical App cannot be trusted.
The co-founder of a digital healthcare business whose app may be used to follow abortion patients is Dr. Mehmet Oz, a New Jersey native who is running for the Senate in Pennsylvania. In 2010, the TV shill co-founded Sharecare with Jeff Arnold, the inventor of WebMD, and a group that included Oprah Winfrey. The business, whose app allows users to pose questions about their health to groups like AARP or the American Heart Association, has recently dealt with a data breach and a number of legal concerns, including one alleging the sale of customer phone numbers. (The app formerly allowed businesses to pay between US$1 million and US$7 million to be identified as “knowledge partners,” granting them access to share care users in order to sell their products. 2012 saw the end of it.) It’s crucial to look into the anti-abortion doctor’s business history given that Oz’s former company had access to information that may be used to follow abortion seekers.
As of September 30, 2020, Oz was named as a co-founder on the Sharecare website, according to the Wayback Machine, an Internet Archive software that records websites as they are being used. And according to financial filings, he was identified as a director for Sharecare from November 2009 to July 2021. On November 30, 2021, he declared his intention to run for the Senate.
Sharecare noted Dr. Oz’s separation date in a statement given to Jezebel. The statement read: “While Dr. Oz and our chairman and CEO Jeff Arnold co-founded Sharecare more than ten years ago, there is no connection between Sharecare’s business or clinical operations and Dr. Oz, nor the production of his daytime television show or his U.S. Senate campaign. While we wish him luck in his initiatives, Dr. Oz’s political ambitions are unrelated to Sharecare and separate from them.
This pre-2021 time frame is when a Sharecare subsidiary’s data was compromised. At least 23,916 patients had their private health information exposed by hackers in May 2018, and they weren’t made aware of it until eight months later. “[Sharecare Health Data Services] has reviewed its data retention guidelines and enhanced its protocol and communications for maintenance. As an additional precaution, SHDS has recruited a third-party organization to continuously monitor its data systems, the company stated, according to a report on the incident. Her “infrastructure is unique and different from the Sharecare digital platform,” according to Sharecare.
The business continues to deal with claims resulting from the usage of the sensitive data entrusted to them in spite of their “extra safeguards.” City of Chicago employees filed a lawsuit against Sharecare, the City of Chicago, and several other defendants in 2020 over claims that they sold and marketed customers’ confidential health information for gain. The litigation against the City of Chicago is still unresolved (Sharecare contended that the allegations at issue did not apply to them, and the business was dropped from the suit in March). Additionally, Sharecare was compelled to testify in a class action lawsuit in 2020 about phone data allegedly supplied to a telemarketing company that was suspected of calling clients without their consent.
This brings up the issue of the app’s possible monitoring. Through Sharecare’s desktop and mobile capabilities, patients may upload sensitive data in the reproductive healthcare industry. When you sign in to the dashboard, several common yet alarming health categories appear. The first item is medicine, with a place to put birth control and note whether you’ve taken it or not. Levonorgestrel (the morning-after pill), mifepristone, and misoprostol, which the firm claims is meant to aid a patient make sure they’ve taken their prescriptions, are just a few of the medications that Sharecare also lets you add. The Sharecare system records your reproductive health care digitally, adding it to the list of systems that can endanger patients.
When it comes to privacy, the business asserts that “any personally identifiable information that user data store in our systems as part of their reproductive journey is not available to ANY third party without the user’s consent, regardless of whether someone accesses Sharecare directly as a consumer or via their employer or health plan.” The HITRUST and ISO 27001 certified Sharecare digital platform uses a system design that encrypts and isolates any identifiers from the user’s health data so that any information viewed cannot be connected to a specific user. Our top priority and a duty that we take very seriously is the protection of Sharecare’s user data.
Oz announced his Senate bid with all the fanfare a pro-Trump Republican would use. The former cardiac surgeon turned television star is obviously anti-abortion. Oz was delighted when the Dobbs decision overturned Roe v. Wade and upheld the constitutional right to abortion. “While we lift up life,” he said in a tweet on June 24, “we must focus on the needs of women and children, for whom this choice can be the greatest gift of all.”