🍎 healthy points economies

🤑 a penny for your health data

A grocer is building a digital healthcare ecosystem.” 

🔮 The sentence reads like something auto-generated by the Magical Realism Bot. Instead, it describes the recent launch of Loblaw’s PC Health app. I wrote about the implications of it in the Globe and Mail (*subscribers only) 👇


While the PC Health app doesn’t quite meet the definition of a “health information custodian,” as a service provider it may meet the definition of an “agent” - it all depends on the specific data flow. It seems as if this deliberately sits in a hazy area.

To my mind, this continued expansion into the health tech space is reminiscent of activity from Facebook, Amazon, Microsoft, Google, and Apple. For instance, Amazon’s HealthLakerecently launched to enable the analysis of healthcare data at petabyte scale, providing valuable digital infrastructure to modernize health data. Amazon also has a network of health clinics for employees. But the firm also just announced they’d be shutting down a high-profile joint health care venture.

The grocer seems to be on a conspicuous pathway to digital advertising dominance.

The logic behind the app is also kind of paternalistic. Loblaw’s purpose is “Live Life Well.” The below is from their (2019) Annual Report re: “Data Driven Insights,”

We have a rich set of data that offers us unique insights into the needs and expectations of our customers. As we continue to enhance our data and analytical capabilities, our focus is on seeing, knowing and acting on their behalf, thereby helping them live their life well.

Let’s earn pretend points for getting out of this gray zone and reward Canadians with the clarity they deserve to live their digital lives well. 

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Here is Loblaw’s Health Privacy Notice.

Vass Bednar is the Executive Director of McMaster University’s new Master of Public Policy in Digital Society Program.