How to Protect Confidential Employee Health Data
Technology has made it easier to develop targeted and impactful wellness programs tailored to the needs of each workforce. The data from health claims utilization, biometric screenings, health risk assessments, wearable devices and more helps employers address the major health risks of their population while providing personalized plans that can achieve positive health outcomes for individual employees. However, with the continued use of technology comes the responsibility of protecting employees’ personal data. How can employers ensure the security of private health information while earning their employees trust?
Employees are becoming increasingly concerned about how their employers may be storing or using their private health data, and what precautions are being taken to secure this highly personal information. One of the greatest worries is whether this data will ever be used against them by their current or future employers.
This is where a wellness provider can prove invaluable. Not only will a well-qualified wellness provider develop and implement your plan, they will also collect and protect sensitive employee health data. By storing health data with a third party, employers can develop a better understanding of the needs of their population as a whole but will not learn specific information about any one particular employee. When looking for a wellness partner to create a wellness program and protect data, look for these qualities:
Transparency. Make sure your employees will be advised about what data is being collected and how it will be used. This information should be stated in plain language (no legal jargon) and be easy to find.
Aggregated Data. Data should be disseminated in aggregate form and presented to you as a summary or statistical analysis. Trends and patterns can be identified without exposing personal information.
Anonymity. Look for programs that ensure anonymous user profiles. This will help protect employee privacy while allowing employees to connect and support each other on their health journeys without being identified by their colleagues.
Secure Communications. Ask potential wellness vendors if they use secure email and messaging to ensure safe communications that do not expose sensitive data.
The wealth of data available to employers when developing wellness programs to improve employee health is very beneficial, but companies cannot lose sight of the potential privacy implications if the information is not properly protected.