Aug 182016
 August 18, 2016  Posted by  Breaches, Business, Featured News


Todd Essig writes:

Talkspace, a site for online therapy and counseling, was apparently in a panic. When its commitment to client confidentiality was challenged, its response was hasty, ill-advised and hurtful to clients. And in the process they revealed organizational priorities that undervalue both clinical confidentiality and the client-therapist relationship. The significant promise of tele(mental)health deserves better. Here’s what happened.

On August 2, 2016 a now former Talkspace therapist filed a complaint with the Office of Civil Rights of the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services alleging a breach of clinical confidentiality. This is  known as a HIPAA violation. She then told her clients. She cited what appeared to be a routine Talkspace procedure she saw as a threat to their privacy. Then she resigned from Talkspace, giving the requested two weeks notice, hoping to use that time to prepare her clients for a transition in their care, either to a new platform or a new therapist.


As bad as that is, the story gets much worse than just depriving clients a two week transition. The Talkspace VP sent her email as a mass email with all 18 email addresses clearly and fully exposed to all. That’s right, in their apparent panic to clean up after what might or might not be more systemic violations of clinical confidentiality, Talkspace broadcast everyone’s email. They exposed personally identifying information, exactly the kind of information their expansive marketing campaign promises to protect.

Read more on Forbes.

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