Kaiser Breaches Patient Confidentiality in Wellness Program

KaiserSeptember 17, 2013

The journal HealthITSecurity reports that “Kaiser Permanente is alerting patients that it experienced a ‘human error’ data breach on May 16 when an employee mistakenly emailed a spreadsheet associated with a Wellness Screening competition to a pilot planning team member who was not part of the Kaiser organization.” (Read the full story here).

The compromised data included: “first and last names, Kaiser Permanente medical record numbers, phone numbers, email addresses, employer names, department names and the appointment dates and times for the health screenings.”

Kaiser apparently has not disclosed how many patients were involved or what steps it has taken to ensure that this doesn’t occur again.

NUHW-CNA strongly opposes corporate wellness programs. Why? They violate our privacy and fail to address the on-the-job conditions that affect the health of so many healthcare workers.

At Kaiser, SEIU-UHW and other “partnership” unions are working hand-in-hand with Kaiser to roll out a corporate wellness program that allows Kaiser to monitor SEIU-UHW members’ biometric data, including their weight, smoking habits, blood pressure and cholesterol levels. In fact, SEIU-UHW is contractually obligated to push this program on SEIU’s members. Unions are supposed to protect their members’ interests, not the company’s.  Click this link to read a full critique of Kaiser’s Wellness program and these programs in general.

In another recent development, the New York Times reports that professors and clerical staff at Penn State University have launched an “uprising” against the university’s Wellness Program. That university requires employees to “visit their doctors for a checkup, undergo several biometric tests and submit to an extensive online health risk questionnaire that asks, among other things, whether they have recently had problems with a co-worker, a supervisor or a divorce. “  If they don’t fill out the “health assessment,” the university deducts $100 per month from their pay for non-compliance.

Last week, the Penn State faculty senate denounced the plan as “coercive, punitive and invades university employees’ privacy.”