Healthgrades Privacy Policy

Health Grades, Inc. ("Healthgrades," "We," "Us" or "Our") has developed for the benefit of the users of its website ("You," "Your" and "Yourself") at http://www.healthgrades.com (the "Site") this privacy policy ("Privacy Policy") to demonstrate Our serious commitment to protecting the privacy of the information that We collect through the Site. This Privacy Policy summarizes how Healthgrades handles the personally identifying information that You voluntarily provide when You use the Site and that We may automatically collect when You visit the Site ("Personal Information").   

If You are accessing, using or browsing this Site on behalf of an individual other than Yourself, which may be either a natural person or an entity other than Yourself:

  • You represent, warrant and covenant that You are at least age 18;  
  • You represent, warrant and covenant that You are authorized to engage in the activities that You conduct within the Site on behalf of that person or entity other than Yourself, which by way of illustration but not limitation includes the submission and receipt of any and all Personal Information on behalf of that person or entity other than Yourself; 
  • You agree that We can rely on Your representation that You are authorized to engage in the activities that You conduct within the Site on behalf of that natural person or entity other than Yourself; and
  • You understand that "You," "Your," and "Yourself" in this Privacy Policy mean both that natural person or entity and You acting on behalf of that natural person or entity other than Yourself.

This Site is controlled and operated by Healthgrades from its offices within the United States.  Accordingly, this Privacy Policy, and how Healthgrades handles the information that You voluntary provide when You use the Site and information that We may automatically collect when You visit the Site, is governed by United States federal and state laws, and not by the laws of any country, territory or jurisdiction other than the United States and its states.  We make no representations that the Site is appropriate or available for use outside of the United States. Access to the Site from territories where its contents or purpose is illegal is prohibited.  Those who choose to access the Site are responsible for compliance with applicable local laws and regulations.

Your use of this Site will be deemed conclusively to constitute Your acceptance of and agreement to this Privacy Policy and all portions hereof.

Healthgrades reserves the right, at its sole discretion, to change this Privacy Policy at any time. If We decide to change the Privacy Policy, We will then post the changes in appropriate places on the Site so that You are aware of the changed Privacy Policy. Your continued use of the Site after the Effective Date for any such changes to the Privacy Policy will be deemed conclusively to constitute Your acceptance of and agreement to the changed Privacy Policy; consequently, You should frequently review this Privacy Policy. 

What Personal Information does Healthgrades collect?

Healthgrades collects several types of Personal Information:  personally identifying information that cannot be traced back to You; personally identifying information that can be traced back to You; and personally identifying information that can be traced back to You and that includes or is linked or associated with health-related information. 

You can access and browse the Site at any time without providing Personal Information that can be traced back to You. 

To use some of its services and access certain areas of the Site, You must provide Personal Information that can be traced back to You, such as full name, street address and zip code, telephone number, e-mail, gender, date of birth, insurance coverage, social history and known health characteristics and medical needs. We collect this Personal Information that You voluntarily provide through the use of on-line data entry, survey, product purchase and registration forms. Healthgrades gathers most of this Personal Information from You during an initial voluntary User registration process for the Site. Healthgrades also occasionally asks You for Personal Information at other times, including when You complete optional survey forms, fill out optional contact forms for additional information on particular products and services or use a particular service. Accordingly, You can determine to a large extent what Personal Information You wish to submit on a voluntary basis to Healthgrades. 

To access and use Healthgrades On-Line Appointment Request ("OAR") or schedule an appointment using Healthgrades On-Line Appointment Schedule ("OAS") (individually and collectively referred to as the "Appointment Services") to make an appointment with providers of healthcare services (collectively, "Healthcare Providers") You must submit to Us the requested appointment information (the "Appointment Materials") during the completion of the Appointment Services scheduling process within the Site.  This personally identifying information that You submit with the Appointment Materials can be traced back to You and will include or be linked or associated with health-related information, such as physical or mental health conditions and the treatment of these conditions and other health-related information that You choose to share with Us. The combination of this Personal Information with health-related information provided by You with the Appointment Materials is called "Protected Health Information" and is subject to special rules under a federal law called the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 or "HIPAA", for short. Healthgrades treats all personally identifying information received from You with the Appointment Materials or created from Your use of the Appointment Services as Protected Health Information, regardless of whether an appointment is scheduled or a scheduled appointment is fulfilled. Personal Information that includes or is linked or associated with health-related information that You submit elsewhere on the Site without the Appointment Materials is not Protected Health Information and is not treated as such by Healthgrades or under HIPAA. The Privacy Policy's references to "HIPAA" are to this law and the various laws that have amended it, including most recently the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act. 

When You visit the Site, Healthgrades may also automatically collect with Cookies, and similar technology, Personal Information about Your use of the Site. This Personal Information cannot be traced back to You. Cookies are small pieces of information that are stored by Your web browser software on Your computer's hard drive or temporarily in Your computer's memory. Healthgrades also automatically collects the location of Your computer on the Internet, known as Your internet protocol address ("IP Address"), when You visit the Site.

What about the collection of Personal Information from children?

You must be 18 years of age or older to use the Site. If Healthgrades learns that it has received any Personal Information from anyone who is not at least age 18, We will delete that information from Healthgrades' database.

Why does Healthgrades need Your Personal Information?

Healthgrades regularly makes improvements to the Site to provide its many users with a more personalized, relevant and intelligent service. The collection of Personal Information greatly assists Healthgrades in this improvement process by identifying the interests and needs of the many users to this Site. Collection of Personal Information also assists Healthgrades by allowing it and its affiliates to advertise its products and/or services in a more efficient manner. Through the use of Cookies and on-line data entry, survey, product purchase and registration forms, Healthgrades may monitor, in aggregate and individual form, Personal Information. Although Our primary goal in collecting Personal Information is to deliver a customized and personalized service to the users of the Site, Healthgrades may also use Personal Information to:  (i) send users e-mail notification of new features or information available through the Site or that Healthgrades otherwise feels might be of interest to users of this Site; and (ii) allow third party advertisers and retailers, and their affiliates, offering goods or services that Healthgrades thinks might be of interest to users to deliver relevant information and offers to users. Healthgrades collects IP addresses for systems administration and troubleshooting purposes and to report aggregate information to Our advertisers and others.

What should You know about Cookies?

Healthgrades may place and store Cookies on a user's computer hard drive. Cookies enable Healthgrades to personalize a user's viewing experience on this Site. When a user revisits this Site, Healthgrades can recognize the user by the Cookie and customize accordingly the user's experience at this Site. For example, Healthgrades uses Cookies to recognize user access privileges to this Site, track Site usage and traffic patterns, add advertisements for goods or services of interest based on the information submitted by, or inferred by the actions of, the user, and estimate this Site's audience size. Healthgrades also uses Cookies to store user names and passwords that are supplied at registration. If Healthgrades utilizes Cookies in connection with the collection of information for third parties (that is, advertisers) the relevant advertiser(s) may receive electronic notification when a user views the advertisement. 

Other than for the Appointment Services, Healthgrades may use third party network advertisers to serve advertisements on the Site and may use a traffic measurement service to analyze traffic on the Site. Network advertisers are third parties that display advertisements based on Your visits to the Site and other web sites You have visited, which advertisements might be based on information submitted by, or inferred by the actions of, You on the Site. Third-party ad serving enables Us to target advertisements to You for products and services in which You might be interested. Although third party advertisers and other companies do not have access to Cookies set by the Site, the Site's third party ad network providers, the advertisers, the sponsors and/or traffic measurement services may themselves set and access their own Cookies on Your computer if You choose to have Cookies enabled in Your browser. Among other things, these third party Cookies are set to help deliver advertisements to You that You might be interested in, to prevent You from seeing the same advertisements too many times and to conduct research regarding the usefulness of certain advertisements to You. Note that any images (or any other parts of a web page) served by third parties in association with third party Cookies may serve as web beacons, which enable third parties to carry out the previously described activities. Third party Cookies and web beacons are governed by each third party's specific privacy policy, not this Privacy Policy. While We may use a variety of companies to serve advertisements on the Site, You may wish to visit http://www.networkadvertising.org, which provides information regarding third party advertising and the "opt-out" procedures of certain third party ad servers We may use.

To learn more about Cookies, please visit http://allaboutcookies.org/.  Although most web browsers are initially set up to accept Cookies, if You prefer, You may decline the placement of a Cookie on Your hard drive by using the appropriate feature(s) of Your web browser software (if available) to delete the Cookie. But You should understand that certain areas within this Site may not function properly if the web browser will not accept Cookies.

Does Healthgrades disclose Your Personal Information to third parties?

Healthgrades may share Your Personal Information: (i) with third parties who have agreements with Us, including marketers, advertisers and other health service providers; (ii) if Healthgrades is required by law to do so, including laws outside Your country of residence; (iii) in the event of a transfer of ownership of Healthgrades, merger or other similar transaction (including one in connection with any bankruptcy or similar proceedings); or (iv) as otherwise set forth in this Privacy Policy, including as set forth below. Note, however, that Healthgrades is not and cannot be responsible for the activities or privacy policies of any third party with whom Your Personal Information is shared.

  • With respect to obtaining certain products and/or services from this Site, Healthgrades may disclose to a third party Your Personal Information that We gather from You during an initial voluntary User registration process for the Site ("Registration Information"); as a result, You do not have to enter Your Registration Information more than once. Healthgrades may also disclose Your Registration Information to certain third parties in connection with various programs and tools created and administered by third parties that are included in the Site as an additional service to users. The use of Your Registration Information by these Third Party Programs is described below in the "What about information You enter into Third Party Programs included in the Site?" section. 
  • We may provide Your Registration Information to Our marketing partners with whom You have explicitly authorized Us to share this information, and whose offers You have elected to receive via electronic delivery, telemarketing and direct mail. Additionally, We may employ other third parties to perform services or functions on Our behalf in order to improve Our Site, merchandising, marketing and promotional efforts, communications or other services, or to facilitate e-commerce transactions, including processing orders placed by credit card. Those third parties may include authorized contractors, consultants and other companies working with Us (collectively, "Agents"). These Agents only have access to Your Personal Information as needed to perform their functions, and they may not use any of Your Personal Information for any other purpose than providing or improving Healthgrades' services and offerings.  
  • Healthgrades also reserves the right to share or transfer Your Registration Information or other Personal Information as We determine in Our sole discretion to be necessary or appropriate in the following circumstances: to comply with a legal requirement; to enforce Our terms and conditions; to protect Our operations or those of any affiliate of Healthgrades; to protect Our rights, privacy, safety or property, or that of any affiliate of Healthgrades, You or others; to disclose any activities or information about You to law enforcement or other government officials, including public or government authorities outside Your country of residence; in connection with an investigation of fraud, for the administration of justice, intellectual property infringements or other activity that is illegal or may expose Us or You to legal liability; in cooperation with various law enforcement inquiries; to allow Us to pursue available remedies or limit Our damages; and/or in emergency situations.  
  • Healthgrades discloses Personal Information to third parties or advertisers in aggregate form, that is, in a manner that cannot be traced back to You. For example, Healthgrades might tell an advertiser how many males between 20 and 30 years in age have visited the Site over a period of time.

How does Healthgrades use and disclose Your Protected Health Information?

Healthgrades' use and disclosure of Your Protected Health Information is governed by HIPAA. 

When You use the Appointment Services to request an appointment with a selected Healthcare Provider, all Protected Health Information that You submit with the Appointment Materials or created from Your use of the Appointment Services is used and disclosed by Healthgrades as a Business Associate (as defined by HIPAA) according to the terms of a Business Associate Agreement between Us and that Healthcare Provider. This means that Healthgrades may only use and disclose Your Protected Health Information on behalf of, or to provide services to, the Healthcare Provider for the appointment scheduling services available through the Appointment Services according to the terms of the Business Associate Agreement. There are three exceptions to this use and disclosure rule. Healthgrades may use and disclose Your Protected Health Information (i) for its internal management and administration; (ii) to carry out its legal responsibilities; and (iii) to perform certain data aggregation services for the Healthcare Provider and other Healthcare Providers; provided that, any disclosures for Our internal management and administration or to carry out Our legal responsibilities are either required by law or made after Healthgrades obtains reasonable assurances from the person to whom the Protected Health Information is disclosed that it will be held confidentially and used or further disclosed only as required by law or for the purpose for which it was disclosed to that person.       

Some of the appointment scheduling services available through the Appointment Services for a particular Healthcare Provider may be provided by subcontractors of Healthgrades. The Subcontractor must comply with the same terms and conditions for the Protected Health Information that apply to Healthgrades as a Business Associate of the Healthcare Provider.

The descriptions in this Privacy Policy of the HIPAA responsibilities and obligations of Healthgrades and any Subcontractor do not provide any right to You under this Privacy Policy, HIPAA or any other law.     

As a Business Associate of a particular Healthcare Provider, Healthgrades may be permitted to de-identify Your Protected Health Information created or received by Us for that Healthcare Provider. This De-Identified Information must be created according to criteria prescribed by HIPAA so that there is no reasonable basis to believe that this information can be traced back to You. Healthgrades may use and disclose any such De-Identified Information in the same manner as Personal Information under this Privacy Policy. 

What does Healthgrades do to keep Your Personal Information and Protected Health Information Secure?

On this Site and within Healthgrades, We seek to use appropriate administrative, technical and physical security measures to reasonably safeguard Your Personal Information and Protected Health Information under Our control from unauthorized use, release or access. For example, Healthgrades grants access to any stored Personal Information and Protected Health Information only to authorized personnel. Moreover, when You register on-line or accesses Your account information through this Site, Healthgrades offers You the ability to use a secure server. The secure server encrypts all information that You input before it is sent to Healthgrades.

Please be advised, however, that although Healthgrades has endeavored to create a secure and reliable Site for its users, the confidentiality and security of any communication or material transmitted to or from Healthgrades via this Site or e-mail cannot be guaranteed to be 100% secure at any time. When disclosing any Personal Information or Protected Health Information, You should remain mindful of the fact that it is potentially accessible to the public, and consequently, can be collected and used by others without Your consent. Accordingly, You should consider carefully if You want to submit sensitive information that You would not want disclosed to the public and should recognize that Your use of the Internet and this Site is solely at Your risk. You, alone, are ultimately responsible for maintaining the secrecy for all Your Personal Information including Your Protected Health Information. Healthgrades has no responsibility or liability to anyone for the security of Your Protected Health Information or any of Your Personal Information transmitted via the Internet. Healthgrades urges all of its users to be careful and responsible whenever they are on-line.

If You have any reason to believe that Your interaction with Healthgrades through this Site is no longer secure, please immediately notify Us of this problem as described in the "Further questions or comments?" section below.

What should You know about external web sites?

To the extent hyperlinks are utilized to access other, third party, websites, including links provided as automated search results, You should be aware that these third party web sites are not controlled by Healthgrades and, therefore, are not subject to this Privacy Policy. You should review the applicable terms and policies of each linked site visited before providing any personally identifiable information. In those cases where Healthgrades has entered into agreements with third parties, where useful items and other tools are made available to You, see the "What about information You enter into Third Party Programs included in Healthgrades' Site?" section below.

Can You opt-out of Healthgrades' use and disclosure of Your Personal Information?

As described in the "Why does Healthgrades need Your Personal Information?" section above, the collection, use and disclosure of Your Personal Information greatly assist Healthgrades in creating a more personalized, relevant and intelligent service for You. Without Your Personal Information, We could not deliver to You in the most beneficial way Healthgrades' valuable content and services.  

As discussed above in the "What Personal Information does Healthgrades collect?" section, registration and provision of Personal Information that can be traced back to You is voluntary. In other words, You must "opt-in" to Our use and disclosure of Your Personal Information for the marketing and other purposes described in this Privacy Policy.  If You opt-in to Our use or sharing of Your Personal Information, You can later change Your mind and opt-out. You may immediately opt-out: 

  • from all future use and disclosure of Your Personal Information for the marketing and other purposes described this Privacy Policy by requesting the removal of Your Personal Information from Healthgrades' database as described in the "Do You have the ability to access and correct Your Personal Information?" section below; or 
  • from receiving future marketing-related e-mails from Healthgrades by clicking on the "opt-out" link in any e-mail sent to You by Healthgrades.

Please note that if You opt-out as described above, Healthgrades will not be able to remove Your Personal Information from the databases of Our affiliates or unaffiliated third parties with whom We have already shared Your Personal Information as of the date of Your opt-out request. Please also note that if You do opt-out of receiving marketing-related messages from Us, Healthgrades may still send administrative messages to You. You cannot opt-out from receiving administrative messages from Healthgrades.

Do You have the ability to access, change or remove Your Personal Information?

At any time, a You may contact Healthgrades via e-mail to request: 

  • A summary of any of Your Personal Information retained by Healthgrades; 
  • A change to the Your Personal Information maintained by Healthgrades; or 
  • Removal of Your Personal Information from Healthgrades' database.  

You should send Your request to info@healthgrades.com. In the event Healthgrades receives such a request, Healthgrades may require You to confirm or verify any change to Your Personal Information.

Can You opt-out of Healthgrades' use and disclosure of Your Protected Health Information or access, change or remove Your Protected Health Information?

When You use the Appointment Services, You may receive various administrative e-mails automatically sent by Healthgrades. These administrative messages do not contain marketing-related information.  You cannot opt-out from receiving any administrative e-mail sent by Healthgrades.

Healthgrades treats as Protected Health Information all personally identifying information that You submit with the Appointment Materials to request an appointment with a selected Healthcare Provider and that Healthgrades or a Subcontractor creates from Your use of the Appointment Services. As described in the "How does Healthgrades use and disclose Your Protected Health Information? section above, all Protected Health Information is used and disclosed by Healthgrades according to the terms of its Business Associate Agreement with Your selected Healthcare Provider. To comply with HIPAA, Your Healthcare Provider must provide You with rights in certain circumstances with respect to Your Protected Health Information, regardless of whether Your requested appointment is scheduled or Your scheduled appointment is fulfilled. Very generally described, these rights are a right to restrict the uses and disclosures of, a right of access to, a right to amend and a right to receive an accounting of the disclosures of Your Protected Health Information. These limited rights will be described in detail in the Healthcare Provider's notice of privacy practices. If You wish to restrict the uses and disclosures of Your Protected Health Information, amend, or receive an accounting of the disclosures of Your Protected Health Information, then, You must do so through Your Healthcare Provider.

Upon termination of Our Business Associate Agreement with a particular Healthcare Provider, Healthgrades generally must return or destroy all Protected Health Information received on behalf of or created for that particular Healthcare Provider and then maintained in any form by Healthgrades or a  Subcontractor.  If You have requested or scheduled an appointment with that Healthcare Provider, any Protected Health Information that You submitted with the Appointment Materials for appointment or otherwise maintained by Healthgrades or a Subcontractor in connection with that appointment will be returned to the Healthcare Provider or destroyed by Healthgrades.  This means that until the Business Associate Agreement is terminated with that Healthcare Provider, Healthgrades or a Subcontractor can use and disclosure Your Protected Health Information as described in the "How does Healthgrades use and disclose Your Protected Health Information?" section above following the termination of:

  • any Appointment ID Number, which You received upon completion of the OAS scheduling process for the Healthcare Provider; 
  • Your account with the Healthcare Provider;  the Healthgrades' Limited License and User Agreement; and/or  
  • this Privacy Policy.

How to distinguish between Advertisements and Editorial Content?

Healthgrades believes that it is important for You to easily differentiate between advertising and independent, editorial content on the Site; thus, Healthgrades has developed an Advertising Policy that explains Healthgrades' approach to ensure that the advertising You see on the Site has no influence on the quality, accuracy or selection of editorial content that Healthgrades provides

Healthgrades clearly identifies all advertising on the Site. When Healthgrades speaks of "advertising" or "advertisements," it refers to all forms of advertising, sponsorships and promotions for which Healthgrades receives compensation. Healthgrades has established guidelines on how it labels advertising so that You will know what is an advertisement and what is editorial content. Healthgrades uses clear and consistent language and visual cues or descriptors to distinguish advertising from editorial content. 

  • The word "Advertisement" or the phrase "Advertise With Us" is used to label the most common form of advertising on the Site. The content of the banner or similar advertisement itself is controlled by the advertiser. An advertisement is labeled with the word "Advertisement" or the phrase "Advertise With Us" along the bottom or bottom right corner of the advertisement. If You click on an advertisement, it will usually link to a website that is operated by the advertiser. As noted in the "What You should know about external web sites?" section above, Healthgrades has no control over the advertiser's website or the policies on that site. You should familiarize Yourself with the terms of use, privacy policies and other policies applicable to those sites before using them. The fact that an advertisement appears on a page has no bearing or influence on the editorial content on the page outside of the labeled advertisement itself. Other content on the Site page is under Healthgrades' editorial control. 
  • The phrases "Provided By" and "Sponsored By" are used to identify content that is created or influenced by an advertiser. Healthgrades identifies advertiser-influenced content as "Provided By" or "Sponsored By" advertising so that You can distinguish such content from editorially independent content for which Healthgrades has sole editorial control. You can recognize advertiser-influenced content on the Site by use of the "Provided By" or "Sponsored By" label and the name of the advertiser that appears in the sponsored content.

What about information You enter into Third Party Programs included in Healthgrades' Site?

As an additional service to its users, Healthgrades has included in its Site various programs and tools created and administered by third parties ("Third Party Programs") whereby, as examples, You can receive useful items such as information concerning potential diseases/conditions, information about drug alternatives, and tools whereby You can maintain records relating to Your condition. These Third Party Programs are separate from, and do not include, the Appointment Services. Your use of these Third Party Programs is entirely optional and at Your sole discretion. If You do choose to use them, then some or all of these Third Party Programs may require that You provide certain personally identifying information that can be traced back to You.  This personally identifying information may include, for example, age, current health condition, insurance provider, medical history, prescription history or other health and lifestyle data. If You elect to use one or more of these Third Party Programs, then any personally identifying information that You provide as part of the Third Party Program, as well as Your Registration Information, will be available to the third party administering that Third Party Program. By using any Third Party Program, You acknowledge that any personally identifying information and Registration Information that You provide to the third party does not constitute a violation of Healthgrades' Privacy Policy. Healthgrades will maintain the privacy of Your personally identifying information in Healthgrades' possession in accordance with this Privacy Policy and applicable state and federal privacy laws. Healthgrades cannot guarantee that any third party will maintain the privacy of Your personally identifying information under any circumstance.

Further questions or comments?

Healthgrades welcomes Your questions and comments about this Privacy Policy or the use of Your Personal Information or Protected Health Information. Please send any questions or comments to Healthgrades to the e-mail address info@healthgrades.com.

Date Last Updated: December 26, 2012