An app used by millions of Australians to book medical appointments has been passing on their medical information to lawyers looking for compensation clients, the ABC has reported.
HealthEngine allows folks to view and book appointments with local medical practitioners, boasting an impressive 15 million annual users. While it’s known the company uses details entered into the app to serve targeted advertising based on the user’s symptoms, the extent of details shared seems to go far beyond this.
As part of booking an appointment, the app asks whether an injury was sustained in the workplace or as a result of a traffic accident, passing those details along to law firms like Slater and Gordon, who received, on average, the details of 200 HealthEngine clients per month between March and August of last year.
According to secret documents obtained by the ABC, HealthEngine passed on daily lists to Slater and Gordon. In total, 40 of these became clients to the law firm, translating to projected legal fees of $500,000.
“We are proactive in ensuring that any marketing we undertake is compliant with applicable laws and confident that it meets the highest ethical standards,” the firm said in a statement.
According to a separate report by the ABC, Slater and Gordon was revealed to be receiving these details via an external marketing business, even though the firm’s own top lawyer warned that doing so was unethical and possibly even illegal.
But here’s the thing – if you wanna use the app to make a booking, you’ve got no choice but to agree to the terms without any ability to opt out.
If you tap into the Collection Notice, you’ll get the following information.
“If you consent, we may also provide your personal information to providers of other products and services which may be of interest to you, such as private health insurance comparison services, providers of finance credit for cosmetic and dental procedures, and providers of legal services,” it says.
It’s not the first time HealthEngine’s been caught with its pants down, either. Last year, Fairfax revealed the company was tampering with negative doctor reviews to make them appear positive, a move it’s since apologised for.
It’s a timely reminder that any free service you use is very likely making its money from you and your data. I know it’s boring, but you should always suss the terms and conditions of service anytime you agree to them.