WINSTON-SALEM, N.C., (WGHP) — Novant Health says letters will be mailed to some of its patients following possible disclosure of protected health information due to an error with an online tracking tool, according to a Novant Health news release.
In May 2020, Novant Health launched a promotional campaign to connect more patients to the Novant Health MyChart patient portal.
This campaign involved Facebook advertisements and a tracking pixel placed on the Novant Health website to help understand the success of those efforts on Facebook. A pixel is a piece of code that organizations use to measure activity and experiences on their website.
The pixel was set up incorrectly and may have allowed certain private information to be transmitted to Facebook’s parent company Meta from the Novant Health website and MyChart portal.
After learning the pixel could send unintended information to Meta, Novant Health disabled and removed it and began an investigation to learn whether and to what extent information was transmitted.
Based on that investigation, Novant Health determined on June 17, 2022, that it was possible sensitive patient information might have been disclosed to Meta, depending upon a user’s activity within the Novant Health website and MyChart portal.
This information potentially included an impacted patient’s: demographic information such as email address, phone number, computer IP address and contact information entered into Emergency Contacts or Advanced Care Planning, information such as appointment type and date, physician selected, button/menu selections and/or content typed into free text boxes.
The information did not include Social Security numbers or other financial information unless it was typed into a free text box by the user.
The letter sent to each patient will specifically what financial information may have been involved, Novant Health says.
Based on its investigation, Novant Health officials say they are unaware of any improper use or attempted use of any patient information by Meta or any other third party.
According to Facebook’s Terms and Conditions, they have policies and filters that block sensitive personal data and do not incorporate that information into their Ad Manager.
New Hanover Regional Medical Center patients are not impacted by this incident.
In addition to the resources shared, patients may call Novant Health at 704-561-6950 or click here.
Additionally, patients may also click here to learn more about best practices to protect their information online.