Data Security at Phenome Health

Today, data privacy and security are front-burner issues. On one end of the spectrum, information flows at record volumes given the accessibility of content and the format people choose to consume and create content, both personally and professionally. On the other end of the spectrum, bad actors are constantly finding ways to exploit ever-more complex and multifaceted information-systems to steal or to exploit data. 

At the center of these information systems are people—with varying technical abilities and security knowledge—who have to entrust their data to a complex collection of organizations if they want to participate in today’s computer- and device-mediated world. Most of us either do not realize it or ignore the realization: we put an amazing amount of trust in the services that transmit and store our data.

At Phenome Health, we are pursuing the ultimate goal: prevent disease and promote optimal wellness through science—P4 Medicine. Our science is predicated on data, so if you choose to participate in achieving your own optimal healthspan, you will need to entrust and provide your data to Phenome Health and our band of vetted and trusted partners. And not just any data: your medical data. These data are some of the most personal and private data you have and generate just by living in today’s world:

  • Genomic Data – your DNA, the stuff you are born with, the thing that—aside from some specific cases—never changes. Your DNA is what makes you you.
  • Blood and Stool Data – your lifeline, the stuff that keeps you alive and kicking (and also the stuff that you get rid of quite frequently after processing all that food you eat!
  • Clinical Data – These are the data we usually think of when we talk about medical data. These are the data stored by your doctors and nurses in the computer that they stare at while you sit patiently on the cold table in that sterile doctor’s office. 
  • Digital Data – do you wear a Fitbit or an Apple Watch? Do you carry around a smartphone? There’s a wealth of information about your environment that impacts your health including the average loudness of the world around you, the motion and jerkiness of your movements, and how many mistakes you make while typing.

Each of these different categories of data have varying sizes, shapes, and structures, which requires us to use multiple methods to ensure that your data is kept safe–both while in transit and while being stored. 

Fortunately, Phenome Health has world-class data and security experts responsible for making sure your data is kept guarded while being transferred, and locked up tight while being stored. Not only that, but we’re all participants in the program, so we entrust our own data too. We leverage leading security technologies supported by some of the world’s most renowned security-focused organizations such as Google. Here are just some of the ways we are focused on keeping your data safe:

  • How safe is my specific data? At Phenome Health, we don’t store any Personal Health Information–any data we accept has already been coded or de-identified. So even if a Phenome Health scientist wanted to look your data up by name, they couldn’t! 
  • How do you keep stored data safe? With enough effort, data such as genomic (DNA) data can still be used to identify you, given it is uniquely yours. As such, we take great measures to safely store this information (even though we don’t necessarily have your name on it!). All data we store is encrypted (using the latest encryption algorithms that are designed to hold up to new technologies such as quantum computing)
  • How do you keep “moving data” safe? Moving data, also known as “data in-transit,” is protected with the same encryption and authorization technologies that you use with your banks, accessing your web-based email, and the IRS (if you do that online!). That includes things like “HTTPS” (that little lock icon in your browser bar), multi-factor authentication (just using passwords isn’t good enough anymore), and AI to monitor and predict uncommon data flows and access patterns within all our infrastructure—all designed specifically to stop an attack before it starts.
  • How do you make sure your Phenome Health people are keeping my data safe? The weakest point of any security strategy are the people in the organization, and at Phenome Health that is no different. However, we like to believe we have a leg up on everyone—that’s because our scientists and engineers have years of experience handling medical data, and go through extensive training before getting access to handle your data. In addition, your data never leaves our core platform. Our Core Data Platform is a next-generation, cloud-only system that supports the handling and processing of your data to be done only on its own servers and computers. This means that your data is never actually stored on anyone’s laptops, and all data is crunched on our secured Phenome Core Data Platform. This minimizes the chance of anyone making mistakes or inadvertently exposing your data.

At Phenome Health, we are constantly thinking about data security and how to keep your data safe. It drove us to design our own core computational platform in the way we did—predicated on cutting-edge security measures. After all, our collective success in making wellness a core part of who we are requires us to share our data to gain actionable insights. We can’t achieve that mission without making sure everyone’s data (including our own!) is safe and protected.

Dr. Lee Hood to speak at  BioFuture conference

Dr. Lee Hood to speak at BioFuture conference

BioFuture is where relentless pioneers, innovators, and entrepreneurs gather to assess the present and shape the future of healthcare and