Pregnancy data: the hot new product that’s flying off the shelves

Pregnancy tracking apps often relay personal information to employers and insurance companies

April 15, 2019

Welcome to the new work-life balance, where your boss can see into your uterus. Health-monitoring app Ovia is one of several that sells crazy-personal employee details to employers, The Washington Post reports

What could possibly go wrong?

Like many women’s health/pregnancy apps, Ovia prompts users for updates (from pre-conception through birth) on things like mood, bodily functions, sex drive/timing, and nitty-gritty labor deets. 

But this self-proclaimed reproductive journey “companion” has a dark side: Companies can purchase a “de-identified” version to include in employee benefits packages. In return, they — and the insurance company — receive anonymous user data. 

And while your boss can’t access things like cervical fluid descriptions (an actual data point), they do see aggregated health risks, top question searches, plus articles read, finances, and return-to-work plans.

Behold: the ‘new frontier of vaginal digitalization’

Ovia, which profits from in-app targeted ads, pitches this as a win-win: Employees improve conception chances and potentially uncover latent risks, which in turn reduces company health-care costs.

Health and privacy experts are concerned that companies could scale back benefits based on projected costs, or discriminate against women even considering pregnancy.

Ovia’s 10m-strong user base is a testament to the fact that the femtech market — and the tracking and commercialization of virtually every aspect of our lives — is here to stay.

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