Person looking at a Fitbit watch in a Best Buy store

Reviewing Health Announcements at Google, Facebook, and Apple

By Adriana Krasniansky

Over the past several days, technology players Google, Apple, and Facebook have each reported health-related business news. In this blog post, we examine their announcements and identify emerging ethical questions in the digital health space.

On Nov. 1, Google announced plans to acquire smartwatch maker Fitbit for $2.1 billion in 2020, subject to regulatory approval. The purchase is expected to jumpstart the production of Google’s own health wearables; the company has already invested at least $40 million in wearable research, absorbing watchmaker Fossil’s R&D technology in January 2019.

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Reality star Kim Kardashian at the CFDA Awards at the Brooklyn Museum on June 4, 2018.

Can Kim Kardashian Help Bioethics? Celebrity Data Breaches and Software for Moral Reflection

In 2013, Kim Kardashian entered Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.

During her hospitalization, unauthorized hospital personnel accessed Kardashian’s medical record more than fourteen times. Secret “leaks” of celebrities’ medical information had, unfortunately, become de rigueur. Similar problems befell Prince, Farah Fawcett, and perhaps most notably, Michael Jackson, whose death stoked a swelling media frenzy around his health. While these breaches may seem minor, patient privacy is ethically important, even for the likes of the Kardashians.

Since 2013, however, a strange thing has happened.

Across hospitals both in the U.S. and beyond, snooping staff now encounter something curious. Through software, staff must now “Break the Glass” (BTG) to access the records of patients that are outside their circle of care, and so physicians unassociated with Kim Kardashian’s care of must BTG to access her files.

As part of the BTG process, users are prompted to provide a reason why they want to access a file. Read More