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Innovation in telehealth with data privacy by design

Innovation in telehealth with data privacy by design


Privacy doesn’t have to stand in the way of a good user experience. Learn how we enhance security and privacy by applying principles of Data Ethics by Design to our unique telehealth solution.

When we think of compliance requirements for privacy or data protection in telemedicine, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and other similar legislation comes to mind along with commentary that might lead us to believe compliance requirements are so onerous that innovation is stifled. This is simply not the case. Innovation in telehealth with data protection and privacy appreciation at the core is alive and well.
Abi, our medical microconsultation service that offers fast help from friendly doctors, is evidence of such innovation by leveraging artificial intelligence (AI) and mobile messaging.

Data ethics: a responsible and sustainable use of data

Data ethics is not about mere compliance, simply ticking the boxes the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and other legislation require. Data ethics can be defined as being about the responsible and sustainable use of data where we would adhere to the highest standards of transparency and embed the principles and values of human rights, including the rights to privacy and data protection, into each process or layer of our application.

The principles of privacy by design and data protection by design sit alongside the principles of data ethics within Abi. Privacy by design requires us primarily to respect user privacy, to be proactive, rather than reactive, to have privacy settings on by default, and embed privacy controls into the design of the application. Security considerations need to be balanced against, and bolster where possible, visibility and transparency, but always with the user foremost in mind.

Data protection by design principles are very similar but more specific on points such as implementing data minimisation and purpose limitation, principles enshrined in the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) into applications. The principles of data ethics are recognised as being the human being at the centre, individual data control, transparency, accountability, and equality. At every stage of Abi’s design and development, these principles have been and continue to be taken into account.

In implementing the principles of data ethics, we at Abi Global Health consider three pillars: accessibility of the service, security of the service, and trustworthiness. To add context to the implementation of these principles, we consider the data exchange between Abi and the user. We are both collecting data from and providing data to the user.

In designing the platform, we at Abi Global Health understood that if you have a doctor in the family or as a friend, it is highly likely you chat to them using your favourite messaging application. With this in mind, and understanding the compliance requirements for security over sensitive data, we were inspired to build you an application with an architecture that is technologically secure, robust, and scalable. Abi is a service business and not a data business. An Abi user exchanges the absolute minimum amount of data needed to access the service and then to get the advice they seek in the microconsultation.


Abi is a service business and not a data business.

From the outset, the Abi user is afforded a sense of control over the interaction by being allowed to choose how to access the service. There is no need to install an app to use Abi. Abi users access their medical microconsultation service through their preferred chat apps. Abi users can simply send their medical question to Abi, their virtual health assistant, that allocates them a doctor who is from their own country, giving them access to the microconsultation service in their own language.




Asynchronous communication

Asynchronous communication

The microconsultation between the Abi user and the licensed physician happens through an exchange of asynchronous messages. This allows the Abi user to access the service without needing to set up video equipment or have a stable internet connection. The Abi user can also access the service without concern for their appearance or state of dress, which lowers stress when feeling unwell. Abi has been designed with the user, the human being, at the centre. By allowing the user to choose the chat app, access the service in their own language, and providing for a wide variety of use cases, the Abi user is respected with equality of access to the medical microconsultation service, while Abi bridges the Digital Divide through intentional design.

Abi has been designed with the user, the human being, at the centre.

It is all about trust

Through strong transparency messaging and appropriately placed controls, the Abi user is kept informed as to how their data is processed and managed, and Abi Global Health demonstrates accountability over the data exchange. By allowing the user to choose their messaging platform, the Abi user can manage local copies of data sent and received. [Abi users can log on to a centralised account to manage sessions and messaging history.] The transparency messaging includes information on rights the Abi user enjoys and how the user may exercise those rights over their personal data.

In terms of the quality of the data exchange and to ensure accountability, the Abi user is asked to complete a post-visit survey. Trust between Abi and the user is built through this individual control over data, active accountability, and the strong transparency messaging.

At Abi Global Health, we pride ourselves on our core ethics and implementation of data ethics, privacy, and data protection by design. Privacy does not stand in the way of our good user experience. We invite you to experience Abi for yourself.