Mozilla recently decided to offer the mental health app Modern Health to employees as part of our wellbeing program. With the growing mental health crisis around the world, many companies are adding access to mental health apps to their wellbeing programs too. It can be challenging to find companies capable of meeting high privacy standards, and so we decided it was important we include a review of the mental health app we offer to share what it is like to navigate these privacy concerns.
First, a little about Modern Health. The app offers a full spectrum of mental health services, including 1:1 sessions with care professionals, guided meditations, group sessions, digital programs, well-being assessments and more. Offered through your employer, access to the app is free. One of the features Modern Health offers the over 250 companies that use their service is access to "aggregated and de-identified" data through an "Insights Hub". How does Modern Health look from a privacy perspective? Well, even the mental health app Mozilla uses raises a few privacy concerns for us. We hope to see improvements. We will update this post when we do.
What could happen if something goes wrong?
Modern Health's privacy notice raised flags for us because they say they can collect a large amount of personal information and combine or enhance this information with more information they collect on you from third parties for things such as providing more personalized services. Modern Health says they can collect a fair amount of personal information, including name, mailing address, e-mail address, telephone number, date of birth, IP address, location information, social media information, video recordings and photographs, and information about your dependents.
Finally, Modern Health does say they can share your personal information with a number of third parties, including business affiliates and your employer. Their privacy notice describes the "business affiliate" as a related company that actually performs the mental health care services called "Modern Health Affiliated Covered Entity." It has its own privacy notice as Modern Health says it is covered by the Federal Health privacy law, HIPPA.
So yes, even the mental health app Mozilla offers employees raises some privacy concerns for us. And overall, employer-provided access to mental health apps raises a number of privacy concerns employees should consider before using these apps. We recommend reaching out to your company's HR or wellness department to learn what access to data your company has for such apps and what policies they have in place to keep any data collected private, secure, and anonymous.
One final thing, one of the co-founders of Modern Health, who has since left the company, raised her own concerns and offered solutions about the problems she sees with mental health apps broadly and patient safety in this space.
Tips to protect yourself
- Ensure you have a strong password
- Do not allow third-party tools access to your medical data
- Do not give permission to combine your data with other third-party data, or to use it for research
What can be used to sign up?
What data does the company collect?
Name, mailing address, e-mail address, telephone, location
Health or medical condition, and your treatment (if certain services are connected)
How does the company use this data?
How can you control your data?
What is the company’s known track record of protecting users’ data?
No known privacy or security incidents discovered in the last 3 years.
Child Privacy Information
Can this product be used offline?
User-friendly privacy information?
Links to privacy information
Does this product meet our Minimum Security Standards?
Modern Health applies PGP encryption to verify that any data exchanged is encrypted between the sender and receiver
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