November 30, 2021

November 29, 2021

Privacy vs. Personalized Care: Can We Have Both With Digital Therapeutics?

Navigating the digital mental health revolution can bring us to fears of our privacy and security. With digital therapeutics, can we have both?

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The digital health space has significantly evolved through the years, yet people and entities continue to view it in extremities: a lack of privacy versus equitable personalized care.

The vast gap between both makes it relatively impossible for healthcare, in general, to move beyond traditional inefficient services. As innovations in digital health solutions move beyond the scope of conventional mental health treatments, we are now more conscious than ever about upholding ethical models of highly personalized care without compromising user privacy.

Data Collection Tools in Healthcare: Countering Controversies

The sensitive and stigmatizing nature of mental health data makes it extremely vulnerable to potential breaches and exploitation. A common example of this is last year’s headline news about the hacking of a European psychotherapy app’s database which resulted in harassment and blackmail by exploitation of personal data. Incidents like this are often the reason why people are wary of digitized data collection.

On the flip side, they also highlight the importance of stricter security measures. While the common assumption usually points towards an external hacker, in almost 28% of cases, the breach originates internally. By setting up proper internal procedures with training and risk mitigation, the probability of these breaches can be significantly reduced. Medical software that qualify for certifications, such as Software as a Medical Device (SaMD), can put service users at ease as such regulatory bodies protect the interests of users and prevent data security breaches.

HIPAA Regulations & Digital Therapeutics

The transition to digital record-keeping in recent years has aggravated security and privacy breaches. Some would argue that at the premise of this transition is an outdated law that predates modern data collection tools and services. However, the amendment of the original Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) in 2009 by the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act helped catapult digital therapeutics into a new era. 

Today, data collected through digital therapeutics must adhere to HIPAA regulations, although it has not always been adequately protected. Health information collected by pre-identified entities must be protected by another layer of legal documentation or agreements with partner business associates that may be subject to potential breaches. 

Accessible, coordinated, equitable, and personalized mental health care is amplified with machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI). Computer analytics and algorithms make it possible for practitioners to draw inferences in seemingly unrelated health indicators. Such connections can directly or indirectly impact an individual's mental health. The de-identified version of this data is often shared with stakeholders that are not regulated by HIPAA. AI software is some of the most advanced computing systems that can reidentify personal data if provided with enough variable data from multiple avenues, such as smartphone apps and wearables.

Digital Health Solutions: Revolutionizing Personalized Care

It’s no surprise that the data brokerage industry values over $200 billion in revenue. With the amount of data collected through practically everything, from smart devices to social media outlets, the industry is on an upward growth trend. In just 2020, it was estimated that almost 1.7MB of data was created per second per individual. 

While most of this data never reaches the service user, it's often used by stakeholder companies to inform on trends and practices. Machine learning algorithms analyze, predict, and produce potential outcomes, which can then help clinicians make decisions. Innovations in digital therapeutics, such as iSTRYM, allow service providers and users insights based on behavioral analysis that ultimately support different areas of functioning.

Let's consider the advances in digital epidemiology. Without digitization of large data sets, it would be rather tedious to understand intricately calculated trends of a spreading virus or have demographics for people harassed online. Only recently, digital epidemiology and digital tools have helped experts understand and mitigate the COVID-19 spread by analyzing data from various digital sources like smartphones, health registers, and environmental scans.

MINDCURE’s interactive platform, iSTRYM, focuses on bridging the information gap between the therapist and client by collecting and presenting data relevant to each entity. 

As a HIPAA compliant digital therapeutic, the platform focuses on security/data management efforts to build trusted relationships with users. By providing clear privacy guidelines, scheduled data clearing, anonymity, security, and relevance-based accessibility to the data management system, the platform optimizes the quality of personalized care.

In a psychedelic therapeutic environment, digital tools, such as iSTRYM, help enhance value-based care by supporting a patient-centered journey based on real-time optimized feedback from the service user. 

To learn more about this unique healthcare innovation, visit

Written by

Naveen Rashid