Data security of period tracking apps

84% of 25 Women’s Health Period Tracker Apps Share Data with Third Parties

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84% of 25 Women’s Health Period Tracker Apps Share Data with Third Parties

ORCHA period tracker report

A research team at ORCHA, the Organization for the Review of Care and Health Apps, has examined the privacy policies of 25 period tracker apps and revealed significant flaws. This follows the US Supreme Court’s decision to overturn the constitutional right to an abortion, leaving privacy experts concerned that data from period-tracking apps could be used to penalize anyone seeking to terminate a pregnancy.

Intimate data stored in some of these apps can show details of sexual activity, contraception used, and when the user’s period stops and starts. Amongst the 25 period tracker apps from 24 app developers it examined, ORCHA discovered only one single app which kept all the sensitive data on the mobile phone or device owned by the user.

Furthermore 84% of the apps allowed the sharing of personal and sensitive health data beyond the developer’s system, with third parties. At 68%, the majority did so for marketing, 40% for research and 40% for improving developer services of the app itself.

Amongst those sharing data with third parties, only one single app demonstrated best practice by explicitly asking users for permission within the app itself, rather than bundling this into the Terms and Conditions, which very few people read.

ORCHA believes there is an industry-wide issue with where and when users are asked for their permission to share their data.  This often comes at the beginning of the app registration process, with new users being asked to tick overall consent to Terms and Conditions and the Privacy Policy. Having signed away control of their personal data within minutes of downloading a new app, it then becomes hard to regain control.  Five of the apps tested offered no email address or telephone number for the app developer, which would have allowed users to request that their data be deleted, although this is a legal requirement.

Tim Andrews, COO of ORCHA, said:

“It would be best practice for an app to have a ‘consent’ page that’s easily accessed from the main menu. Each individual permission could then be ticked or unticked at any time. So, a user wanting to guarantee privacy, could easily change their mind and untick the permission to share with third parties.” 

Beyond sharing data with third parties, ORCHA found other data security concerns including:

  •   Almost half of the apps tested which processed personal and sensitive data, demonstrated poor compliance with HIPAA.
  •   Only two showed evidence of conformity to best practice certifications including ISO27001 and Cyber Essentials.

Jon Warner, U.S. President of ORCHA also voiced his concerns by adding:

“With the recent decision by the US Supreme Court to overturn the constitutional right to an abortion, there is valid concern that data from popular period-tracking apps could be shared; leading to potential penalizations for those seeking to terminate pregnancies. Safeguarding digital information is a large concern for Americans right now, and it is vital that we take the necessary steps to ensure that we’re using safe digital tools that protect people’s privacy. ” 

To find out more details and discover two best practice apps, access the full report here.

About ORCHA

Founded by NHS clinicians, ORCHA is the world’s leading digital health evaluation and distribution organisation. We provide services to national health bodies across three continents, including the NHS in 50% of UK regions, delivering national accreditation frameworks, bespoke Digital Health Libraries, and professional recommendation tools, specific to the needs of our clients. ORCHA’s unique Review Engine assesses digital health solutions against more than 350 measures across Clinical/Professional Assurance, Data & Privacy, and Usability & Accessibility, plus additional criteria depending on needs.

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New Digital Health Assessment Framework Launches in the US

News

84% of 25 Women’s Health Period Tracker Apps Share Data with Third Parties

ORCHA collaborate with major US Bodies in delivery of pilot

Daresbury, MAY 2, 2022 – With more than 86 million Americans already using a health or fitness app, digital health brings new possibilities for the healthcare industry.

Yet, in a field of 365,000 products, where the vast majority fall outside of existing regulations, such as the medical device regulations, federal laws and government guidance, there has been no clear way to determine if a product is safe to use. This is stopping the national adoption of digital health, particularly in the fields of condition management, clinical risk assessment and decision support.

The Organization for the Review of Care and Health Applications (ORCHA), today announce its involvement with a new U.S. framework for assessing digital health technologies, including mobile apps and web-based tools used by healthcare providers and consumers, led by The American College of Physicians (ACP), the American Telemedicine Association (ATA) and ORCHA. .

The Digital Health Assessment Framework is intended to be an open framework, accessible for anyone to use, to support the adoption of high-quality digital health technologies and help healthcare professionals and patients make better-informed decisions about which digital health tools best suit their needs. The Framework includes components to assess privacy and security, clinical assurance and safety, and usability, and was crafted to support U.S.-specific guidelines, regulations and best practices for digital health technologies.

The American College of Physicians is launching a pilot test of a database of digital health tools reviewed against the new framework by ORCHA.

Commenting on the announcement, Tim Andrews, COO, ORCHA, said:

“Although it’s designed specifically for the needs and requirements of the US market, the Framework doesn’t try to reinvent the wheel. It recognizes and points to relevant existing US regulations, and applies several leading international standards and frameworks, ISO 82304-2 in Europe, Digital Technology Assessment Criteria (DTAC) and NICE evidence standards framework in the UK, and DiGA in Germany. We have already assessed a number of products against the framework, and look forward to supporting innovators and health providers to understand where their digital health inventory stands against the benchmark.”

For further information, please visit: us.orchahealth.com

 

About ORCHA

ORCHA is the world’s number one software platform for delivering safe digital health. Healthcare providers, professionals and digital health developers in twelve countries use the ORCHA award-winning software platform to deliver digital health safely.

Its product range is built around a closed loop system, delivering the core infrastructure needed to introduce digital health safely, and the governance needed to manage risk. Products include assessment, digital health libraries, formularies, prescription tools and training.

It has completed over 17,000 assessments on 7,000 apps. Its business intelligence technology, matched with an expert team, assesses a product against security, privacy, accessibility and clinical assurance criteria, in a repeatable process, with unmatched speed and accuracy.

About ORCHA

Founded by NHS clinicians, ORCHA is the world’s leading digital health evaluation and distribution organisation. We provide services to national health bodies across three continents, including the NHS in 50% of UK regions, delivering national accreditation frameworks, bespoke Digital Health Libraries, and professional recommendation tools, specific to the needs of our clients. ORCHA’s unique Review Engine assesses digital health solutions against more than 350 measures across Clinical/Professional Assurance, Data & Privacy, and Usability & Accessibility, plus additional criteria depending on needs.

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HIMSS 22, Orlando: ORCHA discusses how to deliver safe digital health

News

84% of 25 Women’s Health Period Tracker Apps Share Data with Third Parties

ORCHA collaborate with major US Bodies in delivery of pilot

Daresbury, MAY 2, 2022 – With more than 86 million Americans already using a health or fitness app, digital health brings new possibilities for the healthcare industry.

Yet, in a field of 365,000 products, where the vast majority fall outside of existing regulations, such as the medical device regulations, federal laws and government guidance, there has been no clear way to determine if a product is safe to use. This is stopping the national adoption of digital health, particularly in the fields of condition management, clinical risk assessment and decision support.

The Organization for the Review of Care and Health Applications (ORCHA), today announce its involvement with a new U.S. framework for assessing digital health technologies, including mobile apps and web-based tools used by healthcare providers and consumers, led by The American College of Physicians (ACP), the American Telemedicine Association (ATA) and ORCHA. .

The Digital Health Assessment Framework is intended to be an open framework, accessible for anyone to use, to support the adoption of high-quality digital health technologies and help healthcare professionals and patients make better-informed decisions about which digital health tools best suit their needs. The Framework includes components to assess privacy and security, clinical assurance and safety, and usability, and was crafted to support U.S.-specific guidelines, regulations and best practices for digital health technologies.

The American College of Physicians is launching a pilot test of a database of digital health tools reviewed against the new framework by ORCHA.

Commenting on the announcement, Tim Andrews, COO, ORCHA, said:

“Although it’s designed specifically for the needs and requirements of the US market, the Framework doesn’t try to reinvent the wheel. It recognizes and points to relevant existing US regulations, and applies several leading international standards and frameworks, ISO 82304-2 in Europe, Digital Technology Assessment Criteria (DTAC) and NICE evidence standards framework in the UK, and DiGA in Germany. We have already assessed a number of products against the framework, and look forward to supporting innovators and health providers to understand where their digital health inventory stands against the benchmark.”

For further information, please visit: us.orchahealth.com

 

About ORCHA

ORCHA is the world’s number one software platform for delivering safe digital health. Healthcare providers, professionals and digital health developers in twelve countries use the ORCHA award-winning software platform to deliver digital health safely.

Its product range is built around a closed loop system, delivering the core infrastructure needed to introduce digital health safely, and the governance needed to manage risk. Products include assessment, digital health libraries, formularies, prescription tools and training.

It has completed over 17,000 assessments on 7,000 apps. Its business intelligence technology, matched with an expert team, assesses a product against security, privacy, accessibility and clinical assurance criteria, in a repeatable process, with unmatched speed and accuracy.

About ORCHA

Founded by NHS clinicians, ORCHA is the world’s leading digital health evaluation and distribution organisation. We provide services to national health bodies across three continents, including the NHS in 50% of UK regions, delivering national accreditation frameworks, bespoke Digital Health Libraries, and professional recommendation tools, specific to the needs of our clients. ORCHA’s unique Review Engine assesses digital health solutions against more than 350 measures across Clinical/Professional Assurance, Data & Privacy, and Usability & Accessibility, plus additional criteria depending on needs.

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