Babylon Health admits GP app suffered a data breach
Babylon Health has acknowledged that its GP video appointment app has suffered a data breach.
The firm was alerted to the problem after one of its users discovered he had been given access to dozens of video recordings of other patients’ consultations.
A follow-up check by Babylon revealed a small number of further UK users could also see others’ sessions.
The firm said it had since fixed the issue and notified regulators.
Babylon allows its members to speak to a doctor, therapist or other health specialist via a smartphone video call and, when appropriate, sends an electronic prescription to a nearby pharmacy.
Leeds-based Rory Glover had access to the service via his membership of a private health insurance plan with Bupa, one of Babylon’s partners.
On Tuesday morning, when he went to check a prescription, he noticed he had about 50 videos in the Consultation Replays section of the app that did not belong to him.
Clicking on one revealed that the file contained footage of another person’s appointment.
“I was shocked,” he told the BBC.
“You don’t expect to see anything like that when you’re using a trusted app. It’s shocking to see such a monumental error has been made.”
Mr Glover said he alerted a work colleague to the fact, who used to work for Babylon. He in turn flagged the issue to the company’s compliance department.
Shortly afterwards, Mr Glover’s access to the clips was rescinded.
Babylon has since confirmed the breach.
“On the afternoon of Tuesday 9 June we identified and resolved an issue within two hours whereby one patient accessed the introduction of another patient’s consultation recording,” it said in statement.
“Our investigation showed that three patients, who had booked and had appointments today, were incorrectly presented with, but did not view, recordings of other patients’ consultations through a subsection of the user’s profile within the Babylon app.
“This was the result of a software error rather than a malicious attack. The problem was identified and resolved quickly.
“Of course we take any security issue, however small, very seriously and have contacted the patients affected to update, apologise to and support where required.”
A spokesman added that the problem had been accidentally introduced via a new feature that lets users switch from audio to video-based consultations part way through a call.
He said that Babylon had informed the Information Commissioner’s Office of the matter.
“Affected users were in the UK only and this did not impact our international operations,” he added.
However, Mr Glover said he still had concerns and did not intend to use the service again.
“It’s an issue of doctor-patient confidentiality,” he said.
“You expect anything you say to be private, not for it to be shared with a stranger.”