Privacy concerns arise when wellness programs share data with vendors

There are major privacy concerns about workplace wellness programs that share employees' information with outside vendors, according to a report by Kaiser Health News.

While some employees have long been concerned about what happens to the information they share as part of wellness programs run by their employer, there's a new wrinkle in the fabric.

Employee privacy could be at even greater risk depending on how outside vendors handle that personal health information, KHN reports. In some cases a person's data provided to a wellness vendor--hired to run a company's employee wellness program--could end up in the hands of third parties and even be used for marketing purposes.

And even as the popularity of wellness programs grows, with more employers asking workers to provide outside companies with detailed information as part of a health risk assessment, privacy concerns are a major reason why some employees chose not to participate in their employer's wellness program. 

Privacy advocates are worried information provided to wellness vendors could be passed on and support discrimination by employers, banks, life insurance companies and others. Data may also get into the hands of companies that use it to market products based on a person's medical conditions and lifestyle.

Further, there's a lack of regulation or standards to ensure the information--gathered through the Internet, company surveys, wearable devices, mobile apps, gym records and lab tests--is used as intended, the KHN report notes. 

To learn more:
- read the report

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