Nope, no potential for abuse here at all. It’s all in the name of providing better and cheaper health services. So why does it feel so damned creepy?
To determine which employees might soon get pregnant, Castlight recently launched a new product that scans insurance claims to find women who have stopped filling birth-control prescriptions, as well as women who have made fertility-related searches on Castlight’s health app.
That data is matched with the woman’s age, and if applicable, the ages of her children to compute the likelihood of an impending pregnancy, says Jonathan Rende, Castlight’s chief research and development officer. She would then start receiving emails or in-app messages with tips for choosing an obstetrician or other prenatal care. If the algorithm guessed wrong, she could opt out of receiving similar messages.
Well, that seems useful, right? But then, there’s this part:
Employees are prompted to grant the firm permission to send them health and wellness information via an app, email or other channels, but can opt out.
If my boss asked me to give him access to my personal medical information, I think I’d feel just a tiny bit pressured, maybe even coerced. And for a very good reason: The EEOC had 3,543 pregnancy discrimination cases last year, and that didn’t include Fair Employment Practice cases.
Will some employers use personal medical information to discriminate? Of course they will.
This is no doubt the wave of the future, and ethical guidelines and strong penalties for confidentiality breaches must be part of the picture.