Cerebral Reveals It Shared Patient Health Information with Third-Party Advertisers, Social Media Companies

Embattled behavioral health company Cerebral revealed that its users’ private health information was shared with third-party advertisers and social media companies.

Cerebral posted a “Notice of HIPAA Privacy Breach” on its website earlier this week explaining that it uses “pixels” and similar common technologies from tech giants Google, Facebook, and TikTok. The telehealth unicorn noted that it has been using Tracking Technologies since the birth of the company in October 2019. 

However, recently the company determined that it disclosed “certain information that may be regulated as protected health information (“PHI”) under HIPAA” to third-party platforms and contractors.

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“Upon learning of this issue, Cerebral promptly disabled, reconfigured, and/or removed the Tracking Technologies on Cerebral’s Platforms to prevent any such disclosures in the future and discontinued or disabled data sharing with any Subcontractors not able to meet all HIPAA requirements,” the notice read. “In addition, we have enhanced our information security practices and technology vetting processes to further mitigate the risk of sharing such information in the future.”

The information disclosed could include a patient’s name, phone number, email address, date of birth, Cerebral client ID and other demographic info. It could also have a portion of the patient’s online mental health self-assessment and services that an individual selected. Additionally, it could include clinical information such as a patient’s treatment, health insurance, and subscription plan.

Cerebral noted that no Social Security numbers, credit card information, or bank account information was included in the sharing.

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Cerebral was founded in 2019. Investors have poured about $462 million in funding into the company, and its Series C funding round brought its valuation to $4.8 billion. The provider offers various virtual behavioral health services to treat depression, anxiety, and some serious mental illnesses.

However, the virtual behavioral health provider has faced public scrutiny and a Department of Justice (DOJ) investigation for a potential violation of the Controlled Substance Act for its prescribing practices of ADHD medication Adderall.

Cerebral has now discontinued prescribing all controlled substances, and it has also shaken up its C-suite. In 2022, Cerebral founder, Kyle Roberston, stepped down as CEO and was replaced by Chief Medical Officer David Mou.

The troubled health tech company has also undergone at least three rounds of layoffs within the last year.